LAHORE – The Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers & Exporters Association (Prgmea) has severly criticized the government’s power production policy that has failed to give any relief to the trade and industry.

While expressing deep concern over awful prolonged loadshedding, Prgmea chief coordinator Ijaz Khokhar demanded of the government to withdraw immediately the exemption of loadshedding being enjoyed by VIP grid stations other than hospitals and sensitive installations.  He said that the private sector was engine of the growth and in the developed countries it is facilitated to the maximum but in Pakistan circumstances is quite different. He warned the government of massive lay-offs and industrial closures if it fails to immediately stop power outages but the government has miserably failed to control the situation. He said that government would not be able to control the situation triggered by the demonstrations and strikes called by the angry industrial workers against their retrenchments as a result of these power outages.

“How the government would establish its writ and from where it would collect revenues to run its day-to-day affairs when the industrial wheel is coming to a grinding halt.”

The former Prgmea chairman said that the government should understand that economic well being is a must for democracy. Unemployment, price-hikes, industrial closures always gives birth to lawlessness and anarchy. Therefore, the government should understand the ground realities and reset its priorities regarding provision of electricity to the industry.

He said that the industry needs continuous supply of electricity to keep the units operational and to complete the export orders well within the given timeframe but only because of the shortage of electricity the exports are not up to the mark. He said that Pakistan had already lost a number of global markets and the new power cuts would further aggravate the situation.

“The government would not be able to control loadshedding unless and until the exemption given to the VIP entities is withdrawn. We are not talking of hospitals and sensitive installations,” he said. He said that how the people sitting on the helm of affairs and bureaucracy could feel gravity of the situation when they are enjoying uninterrupted electricity supply through these VIP grid stations. “They will work on war footing to enhance the power generation when they will face 14 to 18 hours loadshedding in a day”, he added.

Ijaz Khokhar, who is also former chairman of the Prgmea, said that government has not shown any seriousness in solving the unprecedented energy crisis that has forced the industrial workers to take to the streets to draw the attention of the President of Pakistan, the Prime Minister and the Ministers towards this pathetic situation.  “It should be an eye-opener for the government that not only the opposition, but allies are also registering their protest against loadshedding in National Assembly and Senate”, he said.  He said that cheaper and uninterrupted power supply is only way to achieve economic targets set for the year 2012-13 but neither the government is sharing its future plans to this regard nor paying any heed to the difficulties being faced by the trade and industry.

He showed grave concern on Rs.1.51 per unit hike in the electricity tariff on the pretext of fuel adjustment and summary of Rs.2 per unit further increase in the name of subsidy removal and said that these steps would push the trade & industry to the destruction. Government should review its decision in the larger interests of the economy.