LAHORE - The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Saturday warned the government that the business community would besiege the parliament if gas and electricity supply to industry, which has been suspended for the last one week, was not restored, saying that the government was giving priority to domestic consumers ahead of general elections.

This was stated by FPCCI Vice President Azhar Majeed Shaikh in a press conference here at FPCCI Regional Office. He termed the suspension of gas as well as electricity to industry as a black day in the history of Pakistan. He said that Ministry of Water and Power suspended electricity supply to the industry in Punjab for indefinite period when the sector has already been deprived of gas supply.

Endorsing Aptma’s stance on the energy crisis, he appealed to the government to restore power and gas supply to the Punjab industries and save millions of jobs. He said that the government has indicated suspension of power for over a month and the industries are left with no choice but to lay off millions of workers till the power and gas supply is fully restored.

He said that Aptma has already announced that it will lay off workers due to closure of mills while other affected sectors will soon follow suit. He said all provinces should be treated equally when it comes to supplying utilities.

Azhar Majeed said that gas closure had already put the jobs of over 15 million people and exports of $14 billion at stake. “The government will have to reset its priorities regarding provision of gas otherwise the situation will spin out of control,” he said.

Furthermore, he said that the new gas load management plan is a well-calculated conspiracy against the present government. “The rise in number of unemployed will definitely give rise to anti-government sentiments,” he said. “It is not just the industry that will suffer but the government will also be the loser on many counts.”

He said that the textile industry in Punjab has incurred a production loss of $125 million since disconnection of electricity and gas supply over the last five days. The textile industry in Punjab is losing $25 million a day due to capacity closure, he said.

Government has made dozens of commitments to industry at Prime Minister as well as President level during last one month but none was fulfilled but now the business community will never depend on commitments. We want concrete steps, he added.

He said that Bangladesh is presently exporting textile goods of $30 billion annually without producing a single bale of cotton while Pakistan’s just $12 billion textile export is in danger due to energy crisis in spite of producing 16 million cotton bales.

He added the country has the potential of exporting up to $32 billion textile goods, as it is producing around 16 million cotton bales, he pointed out. The FPCCI leader said the province might turn to be a very big graveyard of industry due to unavailability of energy, mismanagement and bad governance.