LAHORE - If everything goes according to schedule, the Punjab cabinet will meet in a ‘power-less’ tent at the Minar-i-Pakistan today and discuss, inter alia, the crippling energy crisis and the provincial budget for the next fiscal year.Hand fans and plenty of tissue paper boxes have been arranged for all the participants to enable them to face the scorching heat and mop their perspiring faces. The ministers and their boss will be wearing black arm bands. This is the ‘revolutionary’ chief minister’s new way of expressing solidarity with the outages-hit people of Punjab and cursing the federal government for what he calls step-motherly treatment of the country’s most populous province.Before resorting to this method of protest, the chief minister has been participating in demonstrations held at various places against load shedding, a new precedent by a head of government.The question is whether this is the right way of registering protest by the chief executive of a province? And whether he will be able to bring some relief to the people of a province where the PML-N has been in power for a fifth time.No doubt, the corrupt-to-the-core federal government has failed to overcome the energy crisis or set right the direction of the economy during the past four year. But, critics say, the Punjab government has also failed to deliver on this front.The 18th amendment empowered the federating units to set up power generation projects of certain capacities, but, so far, the Punjab government has not added a single megawatt to the system. As a result, the industrial sector has been devastated and millions of workers have lost jobs.A chain of industrial estates which was to be set up along the motorway will remain a dream for a long time to come. The plans of the Punjab government to set up power projects are just on papers. The Energy Department had been allocated Rs 9 billion for the outgoing fiscal year, but officials say that not a single rupee was provided to them. A total of 62 projects with a total capacity of 1,459 MW were planned by the relevant authorities, but there has been no headway on any of them. No investor, foreign or local, is willing to invest in this sector for a variety of reasons. The Punjab government wants authority to determine the tariff of electricity generated in the province, but it is not possible unless the federal government gives the green light. Because of the ongoing energy crisis, people are spending sleepless nights and even the Uninterrupted Power Suppliers (UPSs) are not working because they are not getting enough power for reasonable duration to get recharged. In such a situation the Punjab government should take emergency measures to meet energy shortages. It should entrust its brainy advisers with the task of devising short- and long-term measures to meet the power requirements of the province.If the chief minister really believes – as he has been quoted as saying – that people want electricity, not democracy, the new Punjab budget should reflect the PML-N’s resolve to deal with the energy crisis. It should scrap the laptop or housing schemes to spare funds for the energy sector. Laptops and housing schemes are important, but not more important than electricity. No improvement in any sector can be expected unless power generation units are set up first. The funds for laptops and housing schemes should be diverted to the energy sector. To meet additional demands the authorities should sell the state lands.With sufficient funds available, it will not be difficult for the government to set up energy projects in the shortest possible time. Critics allege that the Punjab rulers are trying to provoke the people against the federal government. They want the energy crisis to persist till the general elections so that the angry Punjabis vote against the PPP and in favour of the PML-N.But the PML-N leaders should not take these allegations seriously. They should focus on the agenda of solving people’s problems, because this is the best way to win their support in elections. The government should try to delight the ‘de-lighted’ by providing them with the much-needed electricity.