Wednesday, 27 June 2012 11:27
LAHORE: American Business Forum (ABF) President Salim Ghauri has urged the government to impose energy emergency in the country and constitute group with participation of all political parties and stakeholders enjoying mandate to design and execute energy bailout plan.
He said energy shortages had pushed up the cost of doing business by at least 15 percent and the margin of many sectors had come down substantially. The present circumstances have made it difficult for the industrialists to even bear their fixed expenses, as the fixed costs remained constant irrespective of the profitability or loss to the business.
According to him, inability of the industry to run at full capacity throughout the year was behind the tumbling margins.
He pointed out that former Federal Minister of Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh had claimed for producing more jobs and economic growth as a main target of the budget 2012-13, but it proved a tall claim, as alarming energy crisis was hindering materialisation of this dream.
Further, he said, the Senate Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs had recommended increasing funds, allocated for power sector in federal budget for the next financial year 2012-13, to Rs 500 billion, as amount of Rs 182 billion proposed in the budget was not enough for power generation keeping in view its severe shortage in the country. However, no serious consideration has been extended to this proposal leading to violent public riots and killing of couple of protestors in the hands of security guards of ruling legislators.
ABF President also lamented that plans to expedite Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) imports on government-to-government (G2G) basis seemed to have fizzled out due to the political crisis with disqualification of Prime Minister Gilani and his Cabinet. Already, he said, the project was in doldrums due to differences between members of the ministerial sub-committee formed by the Economic Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC).
He said Pakistan was facing a severe gas shortage, exceeding two billion cubic feet per day (BCFD) as the local production was unable to keep pace with the requirements of the country. Petroleum Ministry has been stressing upon the need to import LNG to mitigate the crisis.
Further, he added, the projects to promote alternative energy projects, particularly those through solar and wind resources, also seemed a farfetched idea under prevailing circumstances, as no seriousness was being exhibited by the government after a big bang announcement.
ABF President has expressed the hope that the government and the opposition parties would understand the seriousness of the problem and raise themselves above from their personal interests and steer the country of energy crisis. He assured that the business community was ready to support and help the government by all possible ways and means.