The traders have unanimously rejected the government decision of shops’ closure by 8:00pm and threatened to go to court if the authorities use force for early closure of markets.

All Pakistan Anjuman-e-Tijiran, All Pakistan Karyana Merchants Association, LCCI Progressive group, LCCI Azad Group and several other trade representatives, while addressing a press conference at Press Club, called upon the government to urgently withdraw its decision and try to resolve this issue through consensus efforts otherwise, if the government tried to impose this decision forcefully, the whole trading community of the province will move the court against this discriminatory move.

APAT central general secretary, Naeem Mir said that govt load management plan through early closure of markets is technically wrong, as the WAPDA is refusing to sell power to commercial users (traders) at highest rate of Rs.24 per unit and planning to divert this unconsumed electricity to domestic or industry users at low rate of Rs.8-15 per unit. Resultantly, the government revenue will further go down, increasing the circular debt further, leading to more chaos in energy crisis in the country. “The government plans to save around 1500MW through energy conservation consumed by traders at Rs.24 per unit and selling it to rest of the consumers at Rs.8-15 per unit. Its flawed, a strategy without wisdom.”

Naeem Mir observed that bureaucrats were misguiding the prime minister through wrong data about power utilization, urging the government to take real stakeholders onboard in the decision-making process.

APAT general secretary said the forced market closure plan of the government should have been discussed in the Council of Common Interests, taking all provinces on board instead of making decision unilaterally by the cabinet. It is discrimination that the markets of Karachi in Sindh remain open till 10p.m. while the shopkeepers of Punjab cities are forced to close their outlets by 8p.m who are already facing additional energy costs.

Ch Mehboob Sirki, APAT president of Punjab, termed the plan discriminatory against retailers of Punjab, saying no such policy was implemented in the past in Sindh, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan.

Similarly, the decision was never implemented in cantonment areas and all customers would rush to Fortress Stadium finding the markets in Anarkali, Liberty Market and The Mall closed. He said the government had not made clear whether the plan would also be enforced on medical stores and children play lands.

All Pakistan Karyana Merchants Association, chairman, Rao Akram Khan, said the government has taken unilateral decision for closure of shops and markets without taking traders into the confidence while the local administration has come into action for it’s implementation which was not acceptable to the traders.

He said the energy crisis was the issue of whole country whereas line losses and power theft were minimum in Punjab as compared to other cities, but it was unfortunate that only the traders of Punjab were being forced to close shops early, which was highly discriminatory.

 He said the local business community has totally rejected this decision and if any arms twisting tactics were used, traders could start strong protests.

He appealed to the government to urgently withdraw this decision and if necessary, a same policy may be adopted for the whole country without any discrimination. They said all traders were united against this decision of the government.