‘Gas tariff hike to destabilise economy’

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Questioning the 13.5 per cent rise in gas prices, the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said that the unwise move by the government would further increase the cost of doing business, hit industrial production and affect exports. ICCI President Mahfooz Elahi on Monday said that the economy was struggling for recovery and government should have focused on facilitating businesses instead of increasing gas prices.
He said that repeated increase in the prices of gas in recent past has badly eroded Pakistan’s competitiveness due to which the country was losing attraction for investment in addition to further destabilising the economy. He said that the government should consider reducing the power tariffs rather than burdening the business community and the common man with unprecedented increase in gas prices. The ICCI president also said that industrial sector output declined sharply last year owing to electricity and gas shortages.
He added that the latest increase in gas price has belied the tall claims of the government that it would erase all sorts of distortions in the overall gas price outlook. The government should extend support to business and industry rather than raising gas prices. Mehfooz Ilahi condemned the sharp increase in Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) prices by Rs7-8 per kg to Rs63.11 from Rs56.70 per kg, stressing that after increase in CNG price people would start using petrol and diesel, which would ultimately increase the oil import bill and add to national economic burdens. He was of the view that the government was taking step to discourage the CNG sector when the economy was facing petrol shortage and inflationary pressure was making the cost of living difficult.
ICCI President called for withdrawal of increase in gas prices to strengthen industry and trade activities. Industry could grow and become cost competitive in the regional and international markets if the government cuts gas prices, he maintained.