KARACHI: Leaders representing Karachi Industrial Forum and members of different textile bodies have criticised the utility company over its failure to supply gas to industrial units and warned of protests in case the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) failed to restore gas at normal pressure.
Addressing a press conference at the Karachi Press Club on Thursday, they said that by curtailing gas supply to Karachi industry, around 57 per cent of country’s industries have been affected in addition to hindering 54pc of the total exports.
The gas crisis is bound to hurt country’s exports because in the forthcoming Heimtextil, Frankfurt — the world’s biggest textile exhibition — exporters would be unable to enter into contracts due to gas shortages.
Moreover, they said that on one hand the government is not providing gas to the industrial whereas on the other, it is hinting at increasing gas and power tariffs further.
Warn protest outside SSGC if supplies show no improvement
They said that businesses had started laying-off daily wage workers and if the current gas supply situation does not improve, they would be forced to lay off regular workers soon.
They demanded the federal government to ensure smooth gas supply to Sindh as per the Article 158 of the Constitution which means that first priority is given to a province where gas is produced and then surplus could be given to other provinces.
They further said that if KPK can ensure its right under the Article 158 of the Constitution over the gas produced in the province then why Sindh, which produces highest quantity of gas, can’t be facilitated as well.
They were critical about the policy of giving priority to domestic connections for gas supply and stated that since 2011, the number of domestic consumers have increased to 9,159,594 from 7,059,594 which means that over 2.1 million new connections have been approved during the period.
However, industrial gas during the period rose to 11,012 from 10,935 connections which meant that only 77 new industrial gas connections were given during the period.
It is pity that we talk about increasing exports but we are not ready to prioritise industrial sector, they added.
The industry leaders also questioned the wisdom of giving cross-subsidy in gas tariff to domestic consumers and stated that giving subsidy to affluent class living in bungalows and luxury apartments at the cost of industry makes no sense.
Speaking on the occasion Commerce and Industries Minister Jam Ikramullah Dharejo said he would also be accompanying industry leaders during the protest.
Dharejo said that before coming to the press conference, he had spoken to Chief Minister Sindh Murad Ali Shah who also extended his support to industry and stated that he raised the issue of gas crisis during his recent meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan at the Council of Common Interest.
Meanwhile, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association Chairman Zahid Mazhar also demanded the government to restore full supply of gas to industries located in the province of Sindh and Balochistan as industries in these provinces can’t operate and fulfill their export commitments.
Published in Dawn, December 27th, 2019