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LCCI convenes emergency meeting on energy crisis

Strongly protesting discrimination in gas and electricity supply to industry in Punjab, the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has convened an emergency meeting of all the chambers of commerce in Punjab and sector-specific associations on Wednesday, January 2.

In a statement issued here, the LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar, Senior Vice President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh and Vice President Mian Abuzar Shad said that protest plan was not all about keeping the industrial wheel on the run but also saving millions of people from going unemployed and their families from starvation.

They urged the government to immediately stop discrimination in gas supply to Punjab industry, as the suspension of gas supply had caused closure of over 1,300 industrial units, rendering thousands of workers unemployed.

The LCCI office-bearers said around 40 percent of industrial units in Punjab run on gas and gas suspension means no production by almost half of industry and a loss of millions of rupees to the exchequer.

They said that the ‘discriminatory attitude’ of the government was not only denting its goodwill and reputation, but had also put a question mark on its ability to manage and govern things. They said that the units in Sindh were getting an almost uninterrupted supply except a two to three-hour gas outage.

Terming gas suspension a death knell for the industry and productivity, the LCCI sought the prime minister’s help in restoration of supply of gas to the industry in Punjab.

“How the industry would be able to manage export orders worth millions of dollars when there is no gas.

Where will thousands of daily wagers who have single source of income go,” they whined. And above all, they added, how the government would convince both the local and foreign investors for new investment when it is unable to manage the supply of gas to existing industrial units. They said that the suspension of gas is sending a very negative signal to the foreign buyers. “Instead of coming up with some sort of relief package, the industry is being pushed to the wall.”

The LCCI office-bearers said that the businessmen were unable to understand why the business community was not taken into confidence over industry-related issues and if the SNGPL was facing some supply related issues they must bring them to the notice of real stakeholders well ahead of time.

It would have taken about two years to set up a system for LNG supply, had the government been accepted LCCI proposal a couple years ago, they added. “The industries of other provinces were taking full advantage of the market share of those of Punjab.”

On one hand the SNGPL complained of a shortage, but on the other hand new gas connections were being given to CNG stations and domestic consumers, they maintained.

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