PESHAWAR - The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and traders community have rejected increase in electricity prices and termed it an unjust step on the part of federal government.

Spokesman for KPK government Shaukat Yousafzai told the media that the issue of the power tariff increase was not discussed during the Council of Common Interests (CCI) meeting. "So linking it with a decision taken at CCI meeting is wrong," he added.  He said the federal government instead of increasing power generation raised its price, which is injustice with the people of Pakistan.

The government's new power policy was also approved during the CCI meeting held on Wednesday. Following the meeting, Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif announced that the government would raise the power tariff.

The price hike will be applicable on commercial and industrial users from August 1 while for household users it will be applicable from October. The KPK government's spokesman said that provincial would not accept any increase in power prices.

Meanwhile, industrialists and traders from KPK severely opposed hike in electricity prices and said that the decision would directly affect business and trade and trigger further inflation and unemployment in the country.

Terming it an anti-masses policy on the part of federal government, they called for revival of the decision in the best interest of business and industrial communities.

"The decision was totally unfair and injustice with business community that is already facing numerous hardships in shape of terrorism and loadshedding," President Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KPCCI) Dr Mohammad Yousaf Sarwar said.

He termed the government's withdrawal of subsidy from power sector and increased in tariff up to Rs7 per unit an anti-business move.

He said that KPK is producing cheapest electricity, however, increase in power rates in this province is regrettable. He urged the government to take steps to control power theft and improve the recovery system instead of imposing such unjustified decision on business and industrial communities. He was of the view that the industrial production and manufacturing sector would be badly affected by the decision that might lead to unemployment in the province.

"Despite the federal government's tall claims of not conducting power outage during the holy month of Ramazan, the consumers are facing hours long power outage particularly during Sehr, Iftar and Taraveeh times," he alleged. The government should upgrade the existing power distribution system instead of putting burden on commercial and industrial power consumers," he said.

 "We had great expectations from the government to give relief to business community but it has completely disappointed them us by raising the power tariff for commercial consumers," said Anjuman-e-Tajiran President Sharafat Ali Mubarak. "It was the duty of government to take effective steps for well-being of business community and general masses to boost up the local economy and improve law and order situation," he said, adding business activities had declined from 60 to 70 per cent due to persistent power crisis.