Karachi: Expressing serious concern over reports of further hike in oil and gas prices following new loan from International Monetary Fund (IMF), Pasban Democratic Party (PDP) Chairman Altaf Shakoor here Sunday said that the costly energy would doom the Pakistani economy that has already been in doldrums due to previous debt traps.

He said increase in petroleum levy and electricity and gas tariffs would further make the cost of production uncompetitive in the market leading to closure of more industrial units and opening new gates to joblessness.

He said foreign loans are aimed at making energy costlier in Pakistan to ruin its economy. He said the debt traps have never helped any country to attain progress and prosperity, and like the previous debt traps the new one would also strangulate our economy.

Altaf Shakoor said that domestic and industrial consumers cannot bear any further hike in gas and electricity tariffs. He said salaried class people spend almost half of their income to pay their power and gas bills.

He said the government policymakers are not free to devise their own energy policies as they have to implement the dictated energy policies of the international lending institutions.

He said the government had announced early market closure to save energy but this decision could never be implemented due to poor governance. He said import restrictions to save forex are also being lifted to appease the international lenders.

He said the government has also accepted the dictation of so-called market based currency valuation which would soon further weaken the Pakistani rupee.

He said if we can just manage our energy costs it could provide some economic relief to the Pakistani people facing almost the highest food and energy inflation in the world.

Altaf Shakoor said using solar energy is the workable solution to the energy crisis at least at the domestic level, but the solarisation process of the government of Shahbaz Sharif is dismally slow. He said soft loans should be issued to low income consumers to convert their homes and shops to solar energy.

It would cut their energy costs and also help salvage the national economy but the government is not fully committed, albeit its frequent announcements, to ensure a massive solarisation of society.

Altaf Shakoor demanded not to hike the electricity and gas rates, introduce new players in electricity market to break cruel monopolies of power sellers like the Karachi Electric (KE) that are buying power from the national grid on cheap rate and selling it to hapless consumers on higher rates besides getting billions of rupees from the government as subsidies. He said the government does not give subsidies to poor people to buy wheat flour but it gives huge subsidies to private energy tycoons in the electricity, gas and fertilizer sectors.

He asked the political parties to include the item of cheaper energy in their agendas to help the poor energy consumers to get some breathing space.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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