lahore -

The business community on Friday welcomed SC suo moto action on power outages and hoped that electricity situation would improve resultantly.

They said that unavailability of electricity was not only rendering thousands of industrial workers jobless but also causing closures and deceleration in economic activities.

“The power shortage has also adversely affected competitiveness at national level as when the industry in other provinces is producing goods by using electricity, the manufacturers in Punjab doing the same through thermal means.”

They said that investments, local and foreign, have nose-dived to alarmingly low levels. The FDI from July to March 2012-13 was only $0.622 billion.

“Foreign Direct Investment is a barometer of favorable business atmosphere, if foreigners keep on investing, the country is good, its people are good, its policies are good and it is other way round, if they are reluctant to put their money in any new or existing business venture.”

The LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar said that there are no two opinions about it that the Caretaker government in no way is responsible for the power sector mess but they can do a little favour to the country through good governance practices.

The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, being a representative of the trade and industry, understands that at the core of growing power troubles lie a confused energy policy and disjointed decision-making, the weak finances of the government, inefficient and corrupt generation and distribution systems, and bureaucratic hurdles stalling a change in the energy mix to boost output and decrease electricity cost. The growth in the demand for electricity has far outpaced the insignificant increase in the supply, Farooq Iftikhar said.

He said that it was beyond doubt that there are no quick fixes to energy problems. This requires a long-term integrated policy, after which could come the privatisation of power and gas utilities to attract private investment and change the energy mix to reduce dependence on expensive oil.

But, before taking these measures, the government would have to arrange finances to liquidate fast piling up circular debt that has reached Rs 872.41 billion during the current fiscal year and power cuts shaved three to four percent off GDP.