Businessmen slam POL price hike

  • April 02, 2010
Business community in a meeting at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) strongly criticized Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) for giving another shock to the people by making another increase of 4 percent in the price of POL products from April 1, 2010.

They termed it a very unwise decision because it was taken at a time when people were already facing extreme problems due to high inflation while thousands of industries were closing down on account of exorbitantly high cost of doing business. 
Chairing the meeting, Zahid Maqbool, President, ICCI said that this hike will cast multiple negative impacts on the economy as it will unleash a fresh wave of inflation, badly hurt farmers and agricultural productivity, adversely affect business activities by further increasing production cost and lead to sharp decline in exports as our products will become more uncompetitive in international markets.

He said our neighbors China and India were being predicted to emerge as world’s strongest economic powers in coming decades while the government was taking measures that would push Pakistan further behind in terms of economic development as compared to its regional competitors. He said that government was pursuing macro economic stabilisation programs, but at the same time it was taking decisions that would thwart all efforts to improve the economy.

Zahid Maqbool said according to latest figures, the government earned Rs.158 billion on account of collection of taxes on petroleum products during the first eight months of current fiscal year, which was fuelling cost push inflation. He said government should bring all exempted sectors into tax net to improve tax revenue instead of squeezing the people with both hands. 

Businessmen stressed that government should give a serious thought to change the strategy of increasing revenue through indirect taxation as this practice was overburdening the people by curtailing their purchasing power and pushing entrepreneurs out of businesses.

They said recent approach of the government will discourage investment in the country as no investor would prefer to invest in an environment marred with frequent price hikes and rising poverty. 

ICCI President urged the government to take concrete steps to control all wasteful and non-developmental expenditures and seriously adopt austerity measures instead of resorting to frequent hikes in  the prices of power, gas and POL products that will plunge the economy into deep troubles.