‘Power, gas load shedding to reduce jobs’

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The sudden closure of gas and massive load shedding for industries would result in massive unemployment and at the same time exports would decline sharply, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) leaders, including Gohar Ejaz, Ahsan Bashir, Seth Abid, Fayyaz Warraich and others said on Saturday.
They were holding a press conference. The APTMA leaders said that the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) had announced to resume gas supplies to the industrial sector on December 29 but it did not do so. Ejaz said that the federal government had even taken away the option of holding strikes, as mills were already closed. He said that the industrial sector did not want to bring workers on street, as it would result in damage to infrastructure and property in Punjab. The renowned industrialist said that under such serious circumstances, industrialists were still trying to protect workers’ jobs. “But it is a million dollar question that how long industrialists could sustain salaries of workers without operating their units,” he said, adding that labour would react violently when limited resources of entrepreneurs would exhaust.
Ejaz said that around 10 million workers had gone unemployed due to gas closure. He said that it had become impossible to run industries when there was no power and interest rates were high. The APTMA leader said that foreign investors were not interested to come to Pakistan under these circumstances. He said that the CNG sector was given gas for five days in a week while domestic users were burning precious gas in heaters and geysers and industries were denied gas. Ejaz said that Petroleum and Natural Resources Minister Senator Dr Asim Hussain had promised us to give gas for three and half days but the promise could not be materialised.
“The industrial sector does not want to deprive any sector from gas but its distribution should be rational that provides some chance to every sector to operate proportionate to its availability,” he added. The renowned industrialist said that a similar situation emerged in China around 30 years ago and the Chinese went to the extent of cutting off supplies to domestic consumers to make sure that industries remain operative. He said that this was done because jobs and production was important for Chinese planners.
“Perhaps pleasing domestic consumers and facilitating high-income group motorists is more important for our government than jobs and productivity” he added. APTMA Punjab Chairman Ahsan Bashir said there was still a way out if federal government planners took pain. He said that CNG consumed 350 mmcfd gas, which the federal government subsidised heavily. Bashir said that against revenue collection of Rs 3.5 billion gas supplied to CNG stations all over Pakistan, the federal government subsidised the cost to the tune of Rs 4 billion. He said that if the federal government closed down CNG stations for a certain period it could pass on that subsidy to motorists on petrol for that period. The federal government could generate more revenue by supplying the spare gas to industries, he added.
All Pakistan Textile Processing Mills Association, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Punjab Steel Melters Association, chemical manufacturers and auto vendors appealed to the federal government to save the main industrial base of the country situated in Punjab from complete annihilation. They asked the federal government whether it wanted employment or chaos. They said that the federal government was least bothered about the massive unemployment caused by closure of industries in the province.