LAHORE - The business community has said it is very unfortunate that loadshedding in Punjab cities, including Faisalabad, Gujranwala and Lahore is 10 to 18 hours while in Hyderabad 4 to 8 hours, Karachi 2 hours, Nawab Shah 6 to 8 hours, Peshawar 6 to 10 hours, Quetta 4 to 8 hours, Rawalpindi 8 to 14 hours and Sukkur 6 to 8 hours.

They said that the recovery of the bills in Faisalabad is 99.8 per cent, Gujranwala 98.8 per cent, Lahore 98.1 per cent while in Hyderabad it is 59.1 per cent, Karachi 85.6 per cent, Peshawar 78.4 per cent, Quetta 41 per cent. They said that the line losses in Peshawar are 35 per cent, in Hyderabad 34 per cent, Quetta 18 per cent, Lahore 13 per cent, Gujranwala 12 per cent, Faisalabad 11 per cent and Islamabad 10 per cent.

The business community again urged the government to ensure equal supply of electricity throughout the country as the province of Punjab is the worst hit by the electricity shortage and only last year it lost three per cent of its GDP due to power crisis.

They said that due to longer hour power cuts the investment scenario has spoiled in the province and so much so existing industrial units have curtailed their productions.

They said despite a consensus decision at the Energy Conference held on April 9th 2012 and a pledge by for equal load shedding across Pakistan, the electricity consumers especially the province of Punjab continue to suffer from unjust and prolonged load shedding. He said that the acute electricity and gas shortage has not only crippled the trade and industry but has also brought widespread unemployment and poverty.

They said that the consumers of the efficient distribution companies with lowest line losses and the highest recovery ratio are being treated unfairly.

LCCI President Irfan Qaiser Sheikh said that Punjab contributes nearly two thirds to the GDP of Pakistan. Punjab pays for 80 per cent of electricity bills and gets only 60 per cent of electricity units. Yet Punjab is being made the worst victim of injustice.

He said the Energy Conference 2012 had pledged to reduce and equalize load shedding throughout the country, yet the situation has not improved. He said that awful prolonged load shedding was hitting all sectors of economy including trade, industry and agriculture.

The LCCI president said the private sector was engine of the growth and in the developed countries it is facilitated to the maximum but in Pakistan circumstances are quite the other way round.

Irfan Qaiser Sheikh said that LCCI has repeatedly warned the government of massive lay-offs and industrial closures if it fails to immediately stop power outages but people sitting on the helm of the affairs are playing the role of silent spectators.

The LCCI President 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 LCCI President 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.

Irfan Qaiser Sheikh 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.

Irfan Qaiser Sheikh said that Pakistan had already lost a number of global markets and the new power cuts would further aggravate the situation.