LAHORE – The Punjab government is set to raise the energy issue with the federal government, TheNation learned here on Monday.

Sources in touch with the developments on this side, say that the Punjab government in consultation with the representatives of Lahore, Faisalabad and Gujranwala Chamber of Commerce and Industry, APTA and other stakeholders in commercial sector had set up a committee to know what losses have been caused to Punjab due to long hours of loadshedding and what immediate measure were required to address the situation.

It was also decided during the process that a formal letter will be addressed to the Federal Government which the sources say was in the process and would be sent to the prime minister very soon, asking for the provision of due electricity load to Punjab as per decision taken at the Energy Conference for distributing load-shedding hours equally between the four provinces.

They say that industrial and commercial sector in the Punjab was quite perturbed over the hitherto undue cuts in supply of electricity to them as per the conference decisions and they have warned the government of not paying taxes and utility bills if the situation prevails. Taking a strong view of their concerns, the Punjab Government decided to take immediate steps.

In this regard Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif also held a meeting with the representatives wherein he assured to take up the issue with the Prime Minister without any delay.

Sources further confide that with the provincial budget fast approaching, the government wants to meet the revenue targets, a major chunk of which comes from the industrial and commercial sector in the form of taxes and other levies.

They say the efforts of the government were to ensure availability of adequate electricity to this sector so that they are able to discharge their tax and other liabilities towards the government which in turn will facilitate it in preparing the budget.

The unemployment, particularly of the daily wagers, on account of load-shedding is also a major concern for the provincial government. Sources say the Punjab Government also holds the option of moving the issue before the Council of Common Interest if needful was not done at the Federal level.

Reports suggest that despite industrial, commercial and business sectors, the domestic side in the province is still hit by long hours of load-shedding, reaching up to 14 to 20 hours in the rural areas and eight to 12 hours in the urban areas of the province. Punjab grieves that it was facing discrimination and was being given 50 per cent less share of electricity, compared to the other provinces.

PML-N MNA Ahsan Iqbal while talking to this scribe said the Punjab Government was quite alive to the situation and considers the power crisis a national issue, but Punjab has been particularly hit by it. He lamented that the Federal Government had not adhered to the decisions taken at the energy conference. It was decided at the conference that equitable loadshedding would be carried out in all provinces but it has not been followed.