SIALKOT - Exporters, manufacturers and traders’ bodies will hold a massive protest against the prolonged and unscheduled power outages in Sialkot on March 27.
Addressing a joint news conference of all trade bodies on Saturday evening at the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, its President Naeem Anwar Qureshi said the government was pushing the business community towards civil disobedience. “It is reluctant to resolve power and gas woes.”
It may be mentioned here that the unannounced power cuts have created unrest among industrial workers, particularly daily-wagers. “The duration of electricity loadshedding has been enormously increased in the export-oriented city and hub of cottage industry of the country,” remarked the SCCI chief.
He said it seemed that under a planned conspiracy, power loadshedding was being carried out just to sabotage the industrial sector of Sialkot that had earned the government $1.25 billion, besides providing employment opportunities to thousands of workers. Apart from this, he said, the business community was regularly paying a handsome amount in the shape of direct and indirect taxes.
“If the situation is not improved, the SCCI along with other chambers would stage a sit-in in Islamabad,” warned Qureshi, saying that the exporters were unable to complete their foreign orders on time. He further said that foreign buyers were reluctant to place new orders because of the lukewarm response to the problem of energy shortfall.
Speaking at the news conference, Surgical Instruments Manufacturers’ Association of Pakistan (SIMAP) chief Jehangir Bajwa expressed deep concern over the increased duration of electricity loadshedding. He said it was like stabbing the industrial sector of Sialkot, a nucleus of the country’s cottage industry.
In foreign countries, governments always facilitate industries, but “our government was busy in victimising the exporters and manufacturers”, he said.
Other representatives of trade bodies alleged that the government was deliberately trying to disrupt the peaceful environment of Sialkot and to weaken the cordial relationship of employees and employers.
They urged the government to take immediate steps to stop unscheduled power loadshedding and provide 150-MW electricity to Sialkot to ensure smooth functioning of its industrial sector.