Businessmen at the country’s economic center have expressed deep concern over the three-day suspension of gas supplies to industry by the Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and demanded gas supplies without interruption.

In an effort to address the ongoing power outage, SSGC has announced that it will stop gas supplies for three days to industrial consumers, power stations out and compressed natural gas stations (CNG). This step might prove detrimental to industries already in deep crisis and on the verge of collapse because of the impact of the lockdown imposed since March 2020, said President of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan.

He pointed out that the government has always reaffirmed its determination to provide uninterrupted supply of electricity and gas to the five main export-oriented sectors, which have around 1,300 to 1,500 industries. “But what about the remaining 14,500 industries, out of a total of 16,000 industries in Karachi, which continue to be seized because no assistance has ever been given despite being a taxpayer.”

He said instead of providing assistance to all industries in the current difficult situation, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) recently approved an increase of Rs2.89 per unit for K-Electric, which would further add to the difficulties because the business community was forced facing the release of a gas load for three days.

Former KCCI president Siraj Kassam Teli said the SSGC’s cutoff schedule for industrial consumers and CNG stations was unfair and anti-business, which would completely destroy industries that had passed the hardest times and struggled to survive amid a coronavirus pandemic.

Also rejecting the SSGC decision, President of the SITE Industry Association Suleman Chawla said, “This is not in the interest of the national economy because the suspension of core utilities such as electricity and gas has a direct impact on production, which will ultimately result in lower exports from Pakistan. “

Patron-in-Chief of the North Karachi Trade and Industry Association (NKATI) Moiz Khan said the government must know that because of the power cuts for industry, production activities have been hampered.

In such a situation, closing gas supplies would completely stop the production process, which would have a very negative impact on the country’s exports, he said.

“Although the SSGC has scheduled the release of gas loads for captive power plants and CNG fuel stations at the direction of the government, there has not been a shedding of a single mmfcd gas load for industry,” said a gas company official. “It’s a misconception that there will be a release of the gas burden for the industry.”

He said Karachi’s average gas demand reached 750 to 800 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd), which was fulfilled.

However, the official said, K-Electric’s demand for gas is 280-290 mmcfd, which faces a shortfall of 40 mmcfd, which SSGC must provide by limiting supplies to CNG fuel stations and captive power plants for three days.

Published in The Express Tribune, 11 Julyth, 2020.

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