Lahore  - The employees of Lahore Electric Supply Company continued their protest outside LESCO Headquarters against the proposed privatisation of electricity distribution companies on fourth consecutive day.

The sit-in and the rally held at the Lahore’s one of the important and busiest area added to public woes. One of the most busy avenue of the city Queen’s Road had been closed for the protest due to which traffic of the surrounding localities and roads jammed massively, long queues of the vehicles were seen everywhere. The citizens already affected by prolonged power outages expressed anger over the situation.

They, instead of supporting the stance of Lesco employees, demanded the government to improve services of DISCOs whether through administrative measures and reforms or through privatizations. They also criticized the attitude of Lesco officials, who were involved in politics of protests and were busy in useless activities.  “They have closed offices and brought public vehicles to the roads for blocked while power consumers were facing troubles due to their absence from duty, a citizen pointed out. He added that after privatization, every worker will have to work to show his/her performance.”     

Meanwhile, the protesters, who have been demonstrating for the last four days, say they will not accept privatisation of the public utility company at any cost.

Though the talks between Privatization Commission officials and workers are underway yet no positive result is expected as the government had promised to the IMF for the sale of Lesco in 2015-16.

The general secretary of All Pakistan WAPDA Hydro Electric Workers Union Khurshid Ahmed announced that the union will now start protest campaign in Faisalabad from Friday. He also claimed that protests are simultaneously being held by the workers of Wapda all over the country including Pishawar, Quetta, Islamabad, Pindi, Multan, Sukkar, Hederabad and several other cities against privatization. The protesters adopted a resolution against privatization, urging the government to introduce administrative reforms in all public enterprises including Railways, OGDC, PIA, PSM, instead of selling them.

Meanwile, the government and the International Monetary Fund have agreed on a plan to end the power circular debt through tariff hike and privatization of DISCOs. Under the plan, the privatisation of three distribution companies including Islamabad, Lahore and Faisalabad, would be completed during the next fiscal year.

 The crux of the arrangement was that relatively higher system losses would be built in the multi-year tariff to stop increase in debt and make it attractive for private sector so that debt stock could be cleared through privatisation.