LAHORE - The business community on Monday condemned the finance ministry for rejecting the Ogra recommendations to slash petrol and high-speed diesel prices, urging the government to reduce rates of petroleum products as they had declined in international market.

It is unfortunate that the finance minister kept the prices of petroleum products unchanged for the month of May despite the Ogra had recommended a decrease of Rs1.20 per litre in the price of MS 92 RON petrol, and Rs1.10 per litre in the price of High-Speed Diesel (HSD), they added.

LCCI former vice president Kashif Anwar opposed the government for increasing the GST on HSD from 29.5 percent to 33.5 percent and GST on Motor Spirit excluding High Octane Blended Component (HOBC) from 15.5 percent to 20 percent. In the past, the government did not pass on the full benefit of declining oil prices to the public by imposing heavy taxes, he added.

He said that it is the time to relax the duties and absorb the burden of soaring petroleum prices in international market by keeping the prices stable. In the past, government used to cut POL rates after a period of one month when prices were declining in global market but at the time of rising oil prices government is quickly responding and shifting the burden of oil price increase within 15 days, he added. He termed it a bad news for the country’s economy which was already facing a number of challenges.

GCCI former president Samee Ullah Ch said that businessmen had always been calling on the concerned government circles to take measures for the promotion of alternate fuels as trade deficit was fast widening due to heavy imports under the head of petroleum products. He said that high POL prices are bound to give a further blow to the industry.

The industry is seriously concerned about the decline in exports and an increase in the trade deficit mainly due to increasing cost of doing business which has impacted export sector viability, he added.

A cut in oil prices, he said, will not reduce the government revenue as it would just be passing on what it was getting from international market. He said that by bringing down prices of petroleum products, the government would be arresting the inflation while a cut in cost of doing business would help expedite production that had nose-dived due to electricity shortage and a high cost of doing business.

FPCCI former president Mian Idrees urged the government to cut the number of taxes on petroleum products as fuel is the engine of growth and if fuel is heavily taxed, the entire economy will suffer and it happened in Pakistan as frequent increases in POL prices ruined industrial and economic activities.

He said that only because of a high cost of doing business in Pakistan, a large number of industrial units had already shifted their operation to other countries. He said the ongoing high prices of petroleum products had also hit the agriculture sector.