Rejecting Sui Southern Gas Company’s (SSGC) plan to suspend gas supply to all non-exportoriented industries, the business community has suggested observing gas holidays instead to ensure supply of the fuel for a few days in a week. Businessmen Group (BMG) Chairman Zubair Motiwala opposed the SSGC’s notion and proposed to observe gas holiday once in a week.

He demanded that the public utility better manage its load to ensure Karachi industries and businesses remain operational, according to a statement. “When gas is unavailable to the CNG sector, general industries and even the domestic consumers, where exactly 940 million cubic feet per day (mmcfd) of gas is disappearing,” he asked. He further demanded that the utility make public the utilisation of allocated 940 mmcfd of gas, so the business community could review and assess the demand and supply situation.

He underlined that the Industrial Town Association representatives also complained about the suspension of gas supply to all types of industries in their respective zones, which was hampering their overall production activities. “SSGC’s management must observe gas holidays coupled with better load management in order to provide relief to the perturbed business community and also to the masses, who despite being on top priority are hardly receiving the fuel,” Motiwala said. Echoing his views, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) President Muhammad Idrees underlined that the strategy being pursued by SSGC could trigger hatred between export-oriented and non-exportoriented industries.

The decision to restrict gas supply to general industries, while keeping the supply to export-oriented industries, could trigger confrontation between them, he said. “It is totally unfair to shut down gas supply to general industries, which are higher in number as compared to export-oriented industries,” he said, adding that general industries were the ones which supplied essential raw material to export-oriented units. “Both, being an integral part of the chain, must stay operational, otherwise the economy and exports will suffer badly,” he cautioned.

Terming the suspension of gas supply detrimental, Idrees declared that the chamber would use all available options, including protests, against the decision until relief was provided to the city without discrimination. He was of the view that gas supply suspension to general industries would fuel unemployment and inflation due to shortage of essential goods in the market. “With inflation (SPI) already at 18% year-on-year, any supply-side disruption will make the situation worse, as shortages will further jack up prices and erode the purchasing power of low-income people,” he added.

Endorsing the industrialists’ standpoint, Sindh Energy Minister Imtiaz Ahmed Sheikh said that the provincial government was aware of the issue and supported the business community’s legitimate demand for uninterrupted gas supply. “Suspension of gas supply to industries in Karachi will have serious repercussions due to the city’s enormous and vibrant role in the economy,” he said, adding that the federal government should address this issue on top priority.