ENERGY CRISIS

AMANULLAH BASHAR
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)

Jan 2 - 8, 20
12

The worsening energy crisis is not only posing a serious threat to the economic wellbeing of the country, but also stirring the minds of the school-going children asking questions innocently how gas evaporates from kitchens, why vehicles are unable to take them to schools, why papa stays at home, and so forth.

Leaving aside the energy potentials of Balochistan due to extremely bad law and order conditions, why gas supply sources in Sindh said to be richest in the natural resource have gone dry? What exactly happened to our gas fields and what are the realities behind the tall claims of our scientists who never tired to speak on their capacity and capability to transform the huge coal deposits of Thar into real source of energy through gasification?

CNG stations in Sindh were shut down for three days last week, while transporters also went off the roads in protest against gas undersupplies. How to combat the ever-increasing energy crisis is a burning question being asked by every one.

The interrupted gas and power has made things unpredictable adding to the plight of the consumers who are forced to pay the inflated bills of gas and electricity without much consumption.

The situation is being exploited by the political forces who are out to disturb the life of common person only for political gains without giving any tangible solutions to their sufferings.

The textile sector, which is called as the mainstay of the economy, has sounded a note of warning that the textile may not come up to the expectations if remedial steps are not taken to resolve the energy crisis.

Mohsin Aziz, chairman all Pakistan textile mills association (Aptma) has expressed his grave concern over the disconnection of gas supply to the industry, in particular in Punjab, where on top of the 150-days routine disconnection, industry has been served a fatal blow by the gas outage for one month.

Mohsin Aziz wondered what laid behind the policy of issuing the death warrant of the industry which had already been devastated by crippling bank interest rates. He said the elements including gas disconnection, electricity stoppage, and high interest rates, are being so staked against the industry that it has almost collapsed.

He said, on the one hand, there is a hue and cry about the declining foreign exchange earnings and increasing unemployment in the country, while on the other hand, the very source that is earning a respectable earning foreign exchange for the national exchequer and providing employment to millions, is systematically chocked to death by gas and electricity disconnection and a astronomical bank interest rates.

He pointed out to the closedown of spinning and finishing industries that resulted in 36 per cent drop in export quantitative figure. He feared export decline of more than two billion dollars by the end of the year, resulting in widening further of the current account deficit.  

He said the industry is facing presently a 30 per cent production loss and would soon turn into sick units occasioning a capital cost loss of $15 billion in Punjab alone.

He said that it was a strange logic to understand that the bread and butter earner of the nation, its industry, was being strangulated, while CNG, which was consuming more than 300 million meter cubic feet per day, was spared the wrath of gas disconnection.

Mr. Aziz apprehended that the present policy is forcing the industrialists to stop their mills running and would lead to massive defaults in repayments of loans and other charges, thereby landing them in courts and jails.

He questioned how could an industry, which had stopped running, repay interest and bank installments. He suggested that as a small measure of relief to Aptma members, the interest on bank loan be waived off for the period of six months and repayment installments be frozen for the same period of disconnection of gas and electricity to Aptma mills.

He warned that if the genuine demands of Aptma were not accepted and their mills were forced to close down they would have no option but to resort to hunger strike to show solidarity with the starving workers. He said Aptma would adopt all legal means to register their protest and highlight the desperate state of affairs and let the people and the Government know that it was a do or die situation.

Chairman Aptma requested the President and the Prime Minister of Pakistan to intervene by using their good offices in saving the country from economic collapse.