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KARACHI: The hike in K-Electric tariff has elicited criticism from different sections of society, including the industry. They say that the hike in K-Electric (KE) tariff ranging from Rs1.09 to Rs2.89 per unit with effect from September 1 has come when people are already reeling under the impact of increase in the prices of essential commodities.

Although the government had been increasing the cost of industrial and agriculture production by increasing power, gas and water tariffs, yet it had been claiming at the same time to bringing prices of essential goods down. They demanded of the government to withdraw the hike because it would affect industrial production and people of the city.

They strongly criticized government policies to raise power tariff which untimely brought a wave of increase in the price of all locally produced goods. They said that the latest tariff increase "comes as another shock to the households which have already been reeling under the pressure of inflation".

They said that prices of all of the goods produced in the city would be increased substantially owing to the multiple impact of power tariff hike, adversely affecting the purchasing power of the general public and exports. Industrialists always pass on increase to the consumer.

"There is no justification for the hike now," they said. Owners of small industries said the hike would be an additional burden on the small and medium-scale industries.

They expressed the fear that export orders might be canceled due to increasing cost of manufacturing as export orders were booked normally six months in advance, and the importers might not agree to pay the additional cost incurred due to exorbitant upward revision in power tariff.

Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Shariq Vohra, while referring to Power Division's notification allowing K-Electric (KE) to increase rates of electricity ranging from Rs1.09 to Rs2.89 per unit with effect from September 1, stated that this "anti-business move" would deal the trade and industry with a serious blow. He said trade and industry was still struggling really hard to recover from the disaster caused by the lockdown imposed for six months to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

While rejecting outright the federal government's decision to increase KE's tariff, Shariq Vohra said Karachiites had already been suffering from unbridled inflation, and hence the hike in KE's electricity bills was unacceptable and must be withdrawn immediately.

"Although the lawmakers are assuring us that Prime Minister Imran Khan and his government have been striving to control inflation by making earnest efforts, yet it is really unfortunate that they have given the go-ahead to the KE for raising its tariff which would not only intensify the hardships of the business community due to the high cost of doing business but would also terribly affect the poor masses who are already overburdened due to inflation," he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020