LAHORE: The trading community has rejected prime minister’s energy conservation plan through market closure in Islamabad and Punjab by 8pm and threatened to use all available options to force the government to change its decision.
All-Pakistan Anjuman Tajiran (APAT) president Ajmal Baloch regretted that contrary to the promise made by Nawaz Sharif on May 1, 2013 about taking all trader-related decisions after consulting the community, the PML-N government had taken the step of closing the shops by 8pm without taking the stakeholders into confidence.
Talking to Dawn by phone, the Islamabad-based leader of traders said had the authorities approached them they would have given them a plan of conserving half the energy consumed by the retailers by switching off neon signs and 50 percent internal lights and fans during peak hours (8:00-10:00pm).
He wondered why the government was targeting the retailers, ignoring the energy being wasted on illumination of Metro Bus route, parks and certain intersections like Zero Point throughout the night.
He warned the power utility would lose billions in revenue as the commercial sector was procuring the costliest (Rs22 per unit) power that no other sector was ready to buy.
Claiming to be a supporter of the PML-N, Mr Baloch lamented that unelected people and bureaucrats had been misguiding successive governments through figure fudging about power utilisation and urged the political leadership to involve their “electorate” in the decision-making process.
APAT secretary general Naeem Mir termed the government plan impracticable and threatened of taking recourse to all possible ways of protest against it.
He said contacts with traders’ representatives across the country were being made to convene a meeting for taking a joint line of action against the “unjust” step.
He termed the plan discriminatory against retailers of Punjab, saying no such policy was implemented in the past in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.
Similarly, he said that the decision was never implemented in cantonment areas and all customers would rush to Fortress Stadium finding the markets in Anarkali, Liberty Market and The Mall closed.
He said the government had not made clear whether the plan would also be enforced on medical stores and children play lands.
Published in Dawn, April 9th, 2015