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KARACHI: Industrial community has rejected increase in prices of petroleum products by the government, of more than Rs12 per litre, and termed it unacceptable, unbearable and expressed fear that this jump will increase the price of everything and slow down the economy.

Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI) Acting President Maheen Salman said that the price of petrol in the history of the country has crossed the highest level of PKR 150 per litre and reached a PKR 160 per litre which is alarming. Earlier, the price of petrol was beyond the purchasing power of the people.

Maheen Salman said that due to the policy of the government, the inflation for the lower income group had gone up to 21 percent and now the recent increase in petroleum products will further increase the inflation which will severely affect the middle- and upper-middle-class including the poor.

Acting President KATI said that inflation has broken the back of the low-income group. There are no steps being taken by the government to provide some relief to the poor.

Maheen Salman further said that the statement of the Finance Minister came out in the assembly that the IMF has strict conditions to withdraw the subsidy from the people.

In such a situation, the government is increasing inflation on a daily basis but the means for the increase in revenue are not being created. Job opportunities are dwindling, industries are closing and flight of investment is all-time high, so how can the country develop.

She appealed to the government to keep the inflation rate in line with the purchasing power of the people.

President, Site Association of Industry, Abdul Rashid, has declared the recent increase in POL prices disastrous for the economy and has appealed to the Prime Minister Imran Khan to withdraw the recent increase in POL products otherwise, it will become more difficult to run factories due to constantly increasing cost of production.

In an appeal to Prime Minister Imran Khan, Energy Minister Hammad Azhar and Advisor for Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood, SITE President stressed to formulate policies in consultation with stakeholders and avoid taking any step having a negative impact on the industries, trade and national economy as a whole.

Abdul Rasheed added that decisions taken without consultation with stakeholders will prove devastating for industries and the economy. Therefore, the government should ensure that the decisions must not have any adverse impact on trade & industry and the cost of production.

“Increase in the utilities prices again & again and closure of gas are already impeding industrial activity to a great extent and the recent increase in POL prices is bound to stop the wheels of industry, which will ultimately result in decline in exports and mass unemployment,” he added.

Abdul Rasheed has appealed to the Prime Minister, Energy Minister and Commerce Minister to take steps to control increasing inflation and save trade & industry from disaster.

He feared that if trade & industry friendly policies are not formulated, the exports and economy will suffer colossal losses and economic progress will also suffer a setback.

Faisal Moiz Khan, President North Karachi Association of trade & industry (NKATI), while expressing deep concerns over the recent rise in petroleum prices, has urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to take back the decision and reduce the price in order to control the inflation and to reduce the cost of industrial production.

In an appeal, Faisal Moiz Khan expressed concern that the recent rise in petroleum prices would result in huge increase in industrial production cost and would have a very negative impact on local industries as well as export industries, while there will also be a flood of inflation which will affect the poor and middle class the most.

“Making it easier to do business and promote industrialisation is the vision of the Prime Minister. On the contrary, the government is taking steps to make business difficult and shut down industries, raising concerns among the business and industrial community,” he pointed out.

NKATI president was of the opinion that electricity is expensive, gas is expensive and now petroleum products have become expensive. How could we run industries in such a situation? Because the cost is constantly rising due to government measures.

Faisal Moiz Khan added that the government talks of providing facilities to industries to increase exports but in practice problems are being created instead of facilities so if the government really wants to stabilise Pakistan’s economy and promote industries then reduce the prices of petroleum products, including utility charges. Otherwise, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s dream of making Pakistan economically stable will never come true.

Chairman of National Business Group Pakistan and President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum, Zahid Hussain said that the price of petrol has been increased by Rs12 while the price of diesel has been increased by Rs9.50 which will increase the price of everything and slow down the economy.

Oil prices are rising due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which is influencing all oil importing countries, including Pakistan, as oil prices at home have reached the highest level in the history of the country, he said.

The prices of commodities in the international market are also unsatisfactory and the situation of important crops in the country is also worrying which is aggravating the problem of food security while the problem of the textile sector is also increasing, he said.

The rupee appreciated somewhat with the resumption of the IMF loan, but only for a few days, after which its downward spiral resumed, he noted.

He said loan from IMF has not eased pressure on rupee. The rupee continues to fall, which is affecting the entire population and economy, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that steps should be taken to strengthen the rupee, otherwise it would erode the confidence of the people.

He said that the resumption of international flights was impacting remittances while the real estate market was also slowing down due to inflation and other factors which is stoking unemployment.

Mian Zahid Hussain further said that the central bank has been slashing interest rates on housing loans aimed at reviving the construction, but the IMF is pushing for the removal of special incentives for this sector.

He added that the government could not do anything about the Russia-Ukraine conflict and oil and commodity prices in the international market, but it can promote agriculture, improve governance and reduce non-essential imports which would support rupee and foreign exchange reserves.

The decline in remittances to Pakistan has started causing concerns as the hundi and hawala business is reactivating and in the current scenario there is no prospect of a reduction in inflation for the next two to three months.

Mian Zahid Hussain said news of the no-confidence motion has added to the political and economic uncertainty in the country.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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