Frustrated, annoyed and angry textile industrialists of Punjab have once again been given a lollipop by the government to soothe their frayed nerves following threats of a complete industry shutdown in protest against cut in energy supply.
In an hours-long meeting with representatives of the textile industry here on Friday, Federal Water and Power Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar announced that electricity would be equally distributed to all Punjab industries from Monday next week. However, he did not say for how many hours the industry would get the electricity.
“This is for the first time in my political carrier that I am feeling pressure from the industrialists,” Mukhtar said. “I will do what I can to save the industry, but don’t give me deadlines and threats as it is not a nice way to negotiate on such crucial matters.”
Earlier this week, the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) – a key body of textile millers – asked the government to provide electricity to their units and set a deadline of December 27.
Until the end of meeting, the minister was not convinced and insisted that the industry representatives should meet him again
in Islamabad on Monday. But the mill owners kept
on pressuring the minister to announce some relief
at this very forum, saying
a complete power shutdown had sparked chaos across
the industry and left four million contract employees jobless for the past one week.
Earlier, the leaders of textile associations gave a detailed briefing about their sectors to the minister with a hope that they would win some relief. At the same time, they chastised the federal textile minister, saying he did not bother to see them in such a tense situation despite repeated requests.
“All industrial estates of Punjab have turned into a graveyard, we have started rueing why have we invested in Punjab,” Aptma Group Leader Gohar Ejaz remarked.
In the meeting, the younger generation of textile magnates vented their frustration over persistent energy problems while power loom owners indicated the pressure they faced from their idle workers.
Protests have already erupted in the Faisalabad region as the area houses the largest number of textile mills. “We are ready to show our strength, but are restricted by our
elders,” said a young blood of a large textile unit.
In the end, expressions of the industrialists suggested that the minister’s announcement was just a political stunt in a bid to stave off strikes and buy time before any resolution.
“We are accepting Mukhtar’s announcement, but not wholeheartedly, as we think that the ultimate loser will be the industry of Punjab,” Ejaz said.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 29th, 2012.
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