LAHORE - Pakistan Industrial and Traders Associations Front (PIAF) has urged the government to withdraw massive increase in gas prices as it would be disastrous for major export earning sectors including textiles.

In a statement issued here Friday, the PIAF Chairman Malik Tahir Javed and Senior Vice Chairman Khamis Saeed Butt said that government has no justification for making tariff hike in the wake of irritating energy crisis and high electricity rates. The industrial productions are already at its lowest ebb and any further increase in gas prices is bound to cause irreparable loss to the over all economy therefore, it would be wiser to withdraw the recent hike. They said that if the input cost for doing business in Pakistan would be higher than that of neighbouring countries, who would convince the foreign investors to put their money in any new venture in Pakistan. They said that acute power shortage had already pushed the industrial sector to the wall and a large number of industrial workers had lost their jobs, the government should avoid any anti-industry step.

They out-rightly rejected the increase in gas tariff and said that it would be better if the gas companies control line losses, introduce efficiency in their system and control gas theft. APP adds from Islamabad: The new gas load management plan issued by Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) has added to the miseries of masses especially the salaried and middle class, for whom now the availability of CNG has become almost impossible.

Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), being a source of cheap electricity, is a blessing for many sections of society including students, government and private sector employees and public transporters who otherwise have to be a victim of unaffordable petroleum products including petrol and diesel.

However, the new load management plan by SNGPL has limited the availability of the comparatively cheap resource to only public transporters and some others excluding the salaried class as the new timings of gas supply falls in parallel to the office timings. “How can we manage filling CNG in our vehicles in such an odd timings especially during the holy month of Ramadan when Sehar happens at 03:20 am,” said Munir Ahmed, a government employee, who have to reach office at 08:00 am.

And when the office was off, the CNG supply was also shut that is at 03:00 pm, he added. It is pertinent to mention that according to the new plan, CNG will be available in Potohar region and the federal capital on Mondays and Thursdays and that too from 06:00 am to 03:00 pm only. Asif Baloch, a private sector employee said it seemed like the CNG was being eliminated step by step and that the new timings would only suit the public transporters not the salaried class. He urged the government to review the plan as it was not affordable to ply the car on petrol.

Meanwhile, central chairman of CNG Association, Pervaiz Khan Khattak said CNG sector had been subjected to discrimination including low gas pressure, reduction in supply duration from 48 hours to only 18 hours a week, charging of Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) at Rs. 300 per MMBTU and reduction in gas share. He urged the government to make efforts to extend the duration of gas supply for 12 hours a day from 5 am to 5 pm and that too for five days a week to facilitate masses.

“If our demands are not met and issues continued to persist till July 10, the association would launch protest to protect rights of the masses and the business community who have invested Rs 4.5 billion worth investment in the industry,” he observed.