ISLAMABAD-Business community has expressed concerns over the hike in petroleum products prices, which would fuel the inflation rate and affect the business activities.
Ahsan Zafar Bakhtawari, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), leading a delegation visited the Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders and Small Industries (ICSTSI) and, addressing their members, said that Pakistan’s total revenue last year was around Rs.7000 billion and the power sector’s total revenue was around Rs.12000 billion, but still the sector is in great loss. He stressed that the government should privatize the power companies to get rid of losses and focus on increasing the share of hydropower to provide cheap electricity. He said that Pakistan has the potential to generate over 100,000 MW of hydropower and if exploited, it can make the country a rich economy of the region. He said that the government has further hiked the prices of petrol and diesel taking them to over Rs.300 mark for the first time in the history of Pakistan, which would have devastating consequences on the people and the businesses. He said that the government has already given a massive hike in the price of electricity, which forced the people to come on the streets. He said that the value of dollar had doubled in 10 years from 2009 to 2019, but the value of dollar has doubled within a period of just over two years as its value on 31 May 2021 was Rs.154, which has surged to Rs.305 on 31st August 2023. He said the total impact of high energy prices and rising dollar rate would unleash a new wave of unbearable inflation for the people and cause closure of many SMEs. He urged that the government should immediately engage the business community in consultation to devise a way forward for the revival of the economy, otherwise the businesses and the overall economy would plunge into deep troubles where things can go out of control.
Sajjad Sarwar, President Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders and Small Industries (ICSTSI), said that the imposition of many taxes on the electricity bill, including sales tax, advance income tax, electricity duty, fuel price adjustment, F.C. surcharge and TV fee is accounting for almost 40 percent of the total bill. He said that the price of electricity has increased by over 90 percent in the last five years, while the rising inflation has reduced the purchasing power of the people and trade activities are badly suffering. He said that many small traders are now unable to pay high electricity bills and rents of shops and stressed that the government should remove all taxes on electricity bills and POL products to provide some relief to the people and the traders. Faad Waheed, Senior Vice President ICCI, said that increase in energy tariff and POL products would further increase the production cost and many industries would face the risk of closure. He said that instead of taking anti-business measures, the government should focus on promoting ease of doing business.
Zafar Bakhtawari, former President ICCI and Secretary General UBG, said that Pakistan needs to boost exports to revive the economy. However, decisions like hiking prices of electricity, petrol and diesel besides depreciating rupee would further increase the cost of doing business and make our exports more uncompetitive in the international market. This situation would thwart all the efforts of the business community to revive the economy.
Khalid Chaudhry, Akhtar Hussain, Faseeh Ullah Khan, Ch. Muhammad Ali, Irfan Chaudhry, Tayyab Saeed and others were in ICCI delegation. Tariq Khokhar, Senior Vice President, Syeda Wajida Saleem, Honorary VP ICSTSI, Qazi Muhammad Ilyas, Group Leader, Saqib Abbasi, Malik Naeem Akhtar, Muhammad Tahir and others were present on the occasion.