Businessmen give tough time to PM, his team

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FAISALABAD, July 15: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his team faced a tough time over power and gas crises when they met local businessmen here on Monday.

The premier held talks with the representatives of more than 10 associations, including the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Pakistan Textile Exporters Association, the All Pakistan Textile Processing Mills Association, the Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association, the Council of Loom Owners and Sizing Association, Anjuman-i-Tajran.

Sources privy to the meeting told Dawn the entrepreneurs challenged the official power generation figures of 15,000MW against a demand of 18,000MW. They said if the official statistics were true, the local industry should face only a few hours outages. But, according to them, the situation was altogether different as they had been facing more than 10 hours outages and five-and-a-half day suspension of gas.

Praising the previous government, they said the industrial feeders had been facing only four hours scheduled loadshedding and availing five days gas supply. But now the situation was going from bad to worse as they were unable to run their units smoothly.

When Fesco chief Rana Abdul Jabbar tried to clarify the official position, they criticised him and refused to buy his version. The premier asked the minister for water and power, seated next to him, that situation was worse in Faisalabad contrary to the claim of his ministry.

The entrepreneurs also apprised the PM that electricity quota for Faisalabad had not been revised since last 10 years although the city had witnessed a considerable growth.

Their stand was endorsed by PML-N MNA Rana Afzal who informed the premier that electricity issue of Faisalabad could be tackled by revising its quota keeping in view its growth. Nawaz asked the minister to revise the quota within a week.

The PM was also informed that gas allocated for the Faisalabad industry had been diverted to the IPPs with a promise that industry would get electricity in return. However, they complained, the power supply had not improved.

They said factory owners having gas-fired industry were suffering huge losses while a large number of workforce had been rendered jobless.

Responding to the concerns of businessmen, the PM urged them to refrain from taking any harsh stance against the government and give it 100 days to address their issues.

Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said the industry would avail 13-day gas in January next year. The participants welcomed the announcement.

Courtesy: dawn

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