The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Friday urged Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL) authorities to entertain stay orders issued against increase in Gas Infrastructure Development Cess.
A large number of businessmen called on LCCI President Irfan Qaiser Sheikh and informed him that the SNGPL authorities were intentionally disobeying the orders of the High Court issued against the increase in Gas Infrastructure Development Cess, creating problems for businessmen. They complained to LCCI President that instead of entertaining the High Court orders against unilateral and unjustified increase in Cess, the authorities were claiming that they had already written a letter to the ministry over the issue and are waiting for a reply.
The LCCI president, upon hearing these complaints, said that all institutions should obey the court orders in letter and spirit for the rule of law in the country and if the SNGPL authorities are flouting the court orders they are actually committing the contempt of court.
It is important to mention that the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) had made around 15 per cent increase in gas tariff without any prior notice to the industry and put this raise in the last month’s gas bills. Moreover, LCCI President said that the raise incorporated in the industrial gas bills for the month of July has created multiple problems for the industrialists as the authorities given them no prior warning, which had resulted in a significant increase in their costs. The LCCI president added that whenever government functionaries or ministers visit Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, they vow to take the private sector on board for all future decisions but unfortunately this time they did not consult the LCCI or any other sector-specific association while jacking up the gas tariff.
Furthermore, the LCCI president said that Rs 100 MMBTU increase in the gas tariff will put extra burden on the cash starved industry and added that OGRA authorities should immediately withdraw this raise. He cautioned that if the OGRA authorities fail to take this back, there are a number of associations who would be moving court against this unilateral decision. “By making such decisions, the OGRA is not doing any service to the industry but actually opening itself up for legal action.”
He complained that at a time when all governments around the world are trying to facilitate the private sector in their respective countries, Pakistan’s government is tightening the noose around its private sector.
He stressed that even the slightest raise in the cost of production would spell doom and oust Pakistani merchandise from the international export market which would deprive the exchequer of much-needed valuable foreign exchange.