HYDERABAD: President of Hyderabad Chamber of Small Traders & Small Industry Muhammad Farooq Shaikhani has said that natural resources may lack in any developed country and that’s why these are imported, but the first effort of any sincere government should be not to put its burden on traders and general public.

He regretted that in our country the opposite way is adopted whenever there is a shortage of any natural resource. He said instead of finding an alternative, the government finds a solution to the problem by putting the burden on the businessmen and the public.

He said that the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet has approved the hike in gas prices up to 194%, which still requires the approval of the caretaker federal cabinet. The customers will have to bear huge monthly fixed charges due to this increase. He said the reason of this increase is told to be the loss of 46 billion rupees in SSGC and SNGPL.

He stated that monthly fixed charges have also been increased from Rs 10 to Rs 400 for protected domestic consumers; two different slabs have been created for other domestic consumers. In the first category the fixed charges for gas consumers up to 1.5 HM3 are increased from Rs460 to Rs1000 and in the second category which is based on 1.5 HM3 from Rs460 to Rs.2000.

He said that according to the estimates of the Petroleum Division, natural gas reserves in the country are decreasing by 5 to 7 percent every year, but the only solution is to find new reserves and not make gas more expensive for consumers.

He said that the government policymakers have no idea how much negative impact this increase will have on our economy. All the existing industries in the country are already unable to run their businesses due to already expensive gas and electricity and after this increase they will not be able to run at all. Moreover, the domestic gas consumers will be forced to go back to the Stone Age and cook their food on wood.

He conclusively said that the main reason for the financial problems of the gas department is line losses, subsidies, and unscientific surveys. The only solution for all of them is to improve the distribution network and the recovery of debts from defaulters, which will reduce the chances of gas theft.

He requested Caretaker Prime Minister of Pakistan Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar and Minister for Power and Petroleum Muhammad Ali to reject this anti-economic increase and asked the government’s economic team to work with the business community to find a better solution.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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