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KARACHI: Chairman Businessmen Group (BMG) Zubair Motiwala, while warmly welcoming the positive gestures shown by Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar during meeting with BMG and KCCI leadership, assured full support and cooperation to the interim government for all its endeavours towards efficiently dealing with the ongoing economic crises and bringing down the inflation along with cost of doing business.

He informed that despite limited time, powers and resources, Prime Minister was very eager to provide maximum relief and his assurances towards resolving the issues being faced by the business community are very encouraging.

“Prime Minister’s announcement to appoint Shakeel Shah in Karachi as PM’s Office Liaison Officer with whom the business community can easily raise issues and he would also play the role of enhancing business community’s interaction with relevant ministers so that all the issues could amicably be resolved.”

During the said meeting Caretaker PM, Zubair Motiwala expressed deep concerns over severe gas crises being faced by the industrial zones of Karachi who have been compelled to face gas load shedding for two days a week, resulting in terribly affecting the production activities of all industries including the export-oriented industries.

“The situation has to be efficiently tackled on top priority; otherwise, we fear that the gas supply in Karachi would worsen further in the forthcoming winter season”, he added.

Chairman BMG further informed the Prime Minister that the business community has been facing severe liquidity crunch in the current era of high cost of doing business wherein the key policy rate has risen to 22 percent along with highest refinance rates and it was really worrisome that even the approved previous DLTL refunds by FBR have not been released to date and there was no provision for DLTL refunds in this year’s budget which needs to be addressed.

“As it has now become a matter of survival for the industries, the government must bring down the policy and refinance rates in addition to making arrangements for release of DLTL and ST refunds. The unaddressed issues have terribly shattered the confidence of business community and foreign investors.”

He was of the view that the current inflation and high cost of doing business, sparked particularly by the sky-rocketing electricity and gas tariffs along with recent increase in petroleum prices, have aggravated the hardships not only for the industrialists whose production and exports have gone down but also for the small traders, shopkeepers and the poor masses who simply cannot afford to pay exorbitant electricity bills.

“The unbearable hike in electricity tariff has resulted in closure of 50 percent industries in Karachi whereas the remaining 50 percent would also close down if the situation is not promptly addressed,” he said, adding that to deal with the situation, the government must give interest-free loans to SMEs for installation of solar panels which would bring down the production cost by at least 25 to 30 percent.

He particularly appreciated the Caretaker Prime Minister for giving the status of “industry” to modern warehouses, cold storage, cool chain and all other allied industries in response to KCCI’s suggestion.

He also appreciated Prime Minister’s assurance of providing rebate to industries on incremental consumption of electricity as compared to last year’s consumption.

In his remarks, President KCCI Mohammed Tariq Yousuf pointed out that the pilferages in electricity and gas supplies was the main reason for the crises being faced not only by the business community but also the economy which needs to be effectively and strictly tackled on war footing basis.

“In the ongoing era of inflation, members of the business community of Karachi Chamber were highly perturbed who must be provided relief by the government otherwise, many businesses would close down, massive unemployment would take place and the people would plunge below the poverty line,” he said.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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