LAHORE - The All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tajiran (APAT) has strongly opposed the proposals of two weekly holidays and forced closure of markets at 8pm, announcing to resist it fully.

While addressing the meeting of markets boards’ representatives of the provincial capital, traders said that business community was united against the anti-business proposals of the government.

Rejecting the government’s decision to close business centres at 8pm under its plan to conserve energy in the country, traders apex body questioned the government whether any electricity was present anywhere in the country, which was going to be conserved.

Traders said the whole business community has made arrangements themselves and installed generators then why the government is forcing them to close their business centres.

Addressing the meeting of traders, APAT general secretary Naeem Mir, said that the government had planned to observe two weekly holidays, but traders would continue the existing practice of one weekly holiday.

In addition, traders strongly oppose the proposal of closing markets at 8pm, he underlined. He stressed that business activity in the country was already passing through trying times owing to bad law and order situation, shortage of energy and high inflation.

He urged the government to evolve policies, to address energy crisis, after consultation with the business community. He said no single step has been taken for power generation since the present govt has come into power, neither it allocated a penny in any budget for hydel power production. He urged the government to consider alternative measures for saving energy and enhancing the capacity of electricity generating units.

He claimed that two weekly holidays would trigger financial losses to the national exchequer. He said that two weekly holidays in the country were not viable. He said the government should increase power generation instead of forcing traders to shut down their businesses early. “If government really means to save energy, it must ensure implementation of its orders from the PM House, Presidency and parliamentarians’ houses.”

He called for allocation of maximum funds in the upcoming budget to overcome shortage of electricity.

Mir added that the government should focus on resolving energy issues instead of programmes like Benazir Income Support Scheme, laptop distribution, yellow cabs and now the rickshaw scheme for jialas. He said the amount of billions which is being spent under these scheme should be spent on the new energy projects including dams, which will generate jobs and help reduce poverty rather than point scoring and electioneering.

Is it really wise to spend billions of the taxpayers’ money on laptops? Instead, shouldn’t we assess what our real priorities are, rather than opting for decisions that garner publicity and public perception, he questioned.