KCCI REJECTS UNEXPECTED HIKE IN PETROLEUM PRICE Hike in petrol price to hit all segments of society, terribly affect industrial production: Iftikhar Sheikh


KARACHI: President Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) Iftikhar Ahmed Sheikh, while rejecting the unexpected hike in price of petroleum, stated that although a hike somewhere in between Rs5 to Rs9 per liter was being expected as prices of petroleum products have increased in the international market but it was highly unfair to blatantly raise petrol price locally by Rs13.55 per liter which would terribly hit all segments of society and intensify the hardships particularly for general public, besides terribly affecting the industrial production as the cost of doing business would obviously go up.
In a statement issued, President KCCI said that when dollar has attained some stability nowadays, this hike in petroleum price was not making any sense which, if necessary, should have been raised by a minimum Rs5 per liter with a view to pass on minimum impact on the poor masses who were excessively overburdened in the ongoing era of inflation. “The government has been charging Rs60 per liter petroleum levy which is the maximum permissible limit under the relevant law. To minimize the hardships, the government should have reduced its petroleum levy to some extent for dealing with the price difference in local and international market which unfortunately was not done”, he said, adding that the caretaker government continues to take ruthless decisions in the form of raising petrol, gas and electricity prices to squeeze the public and the industries which was totally unacceptable.
President KCCI also mentioned that the business community was also expecting a cut in key policy rate by at least 100 basis points to send a positive signal but unfortunately, it has also been kept unchanged at 22 percent despite State Bank’s claim about inflation falling down in the range of 23 to 25 percent.
He opined that keeping in view the economic crises being faced by the country, the government has to take harsh steps in order to generate the required revenue for overcoming expenditures and fulfilling international commitments but instead of taking these steps back-to-back, they should devise some kind of an effective strategy to ensure some sigh of relief to the masses and the industry who will not be able to bear the brunt caused by consecutive price hikes.
Iftikhar Sheikh said that instead of curtailing the State’s unnecessary expenditures, the poor public and the industries were constantly being penalized that have resulted in bringing down the industrial production and exports which have brought the economy at a point where it has no other option but to depend on foreign loans and assistance to stay afloat. “There is a need to implement structural reforms, curb unproductive expenditures, expand tax base, privatize loss-making institutions and foster public-private partnerships to stimulate sustainable growth to save the country from plunging into further disaster”, he added.
He stressed that the emerging situation has to be efficiently addressed and handled very carefully otherwise, the rising petroleum, gas and electricity prices will continue to increase the cost of doing business, which would terribly affect the industrial performance, raise unemployment and open the floodgate of inflation, particularly for the middle and lower segments of the society, besides making the poor poorer due to unbearable inflation.
He said that the increase in petroleum prices will also bring a negative effect on transportation charges of import-exports cargo, electricity fuel adjustment charges, maintenance cost and other expenditures, which would collectively affect the cost of finished goods and make manufacturing & exports sectors uncompetitive in the international market.
He hoped that the government would review the overall inflationary situation and accordingly take steps to somehow ease the burden on common man’s life and the industry as well in the larger interest of the country.

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