Traders and industrialists strongly protest against 3-17 percent hike in gas tariff

  • February 23, 2009

Mian Shaukat Masud, President, Shabab Khalid & Muhammad Ishtiaq Qureshi, Vice Presidents and other office bearers of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry strongly protested against average hike of 7.5 percent in gas tariff and termed it an anti business decision which will further cripple the already struggling trade and industry, particularly the textile sector. The government has distributed the approved gas tariff increase among the different consumers that range between 3-17 percent while it has passed on 10 percent hike in gas tariff rates for Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) stations. They said they are simply astonished at this very startling step, particularly when the oil prices in international market are on the decline and there was not need to go for such negative measures. They feared that industry will now be facing more serious threat of closures, layoffs and sizeable production cut because of steep rise in their cost of doing business as well as a substantial reduction in their sales.

ICCI office bearers said at a time when the industry is not doing good and is in doldrums, exports going down, unemployment figures at an all time high, cost of doing business and cost of manufacturing at its peak, this step to increase the tariff of gas, which is an indigenous raw material, will prove very detrimental for the industry and will put highly negative impact on business activities in the country. They said that government had already increased electricity by 18 percent in Sep: 2008 which had made our products uncompetitive in international markets while this hike will definitely increase the price of commodities in the local market and would put us in a position where it would be impossible to compete in the world market, with special reference to textile. They were of the view that this sector is the mainstay of our exports, largest engine of employment generation, largest foreign exchange earner and government should provide maximum incentives to it to play more effective role in strengthening the economy instead of making conditions more difficult for it by raising tariffs.

Mian Shaukat Masud said that business community has always been requesting government to bring down cost of doing business in the country by reducing electricity & gas tariffs and high interest rates. But contrary to our appeals, government has further raised the production cost by spiking gas tariff. He said businessmen are playing an important role in the national economy and being a key stake holder, government should always take them on board by involving them in consultation before taking such decisions so that better solutions for the economy could be worked out. He said this is a self defeating move and contrary to the expectations of businessmen and investors.

They questioned whether this is a sane decision by the democratically elected Government which has come into power to provide more jobs to the population of Pakistan or to snatch the jobs. He appreciated notice taken by President Asif Ali Zardari against this raise and hope that government will review this increase so that people and business could be saved from further problems.