PESHAWAR/islamabad  -   The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa business community has rejected the recent unprecedented increase in prices of petroleum products, terming it as tsunami of price-hike and asked the government to take back its decision forthwith.

Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) President Faiz Muhammad Faizi, in a statement issued here on Monday, said that government on the recommendation of Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (OGRA) had increased prices of petroleum products, putting the country’s economy on stake and multiplied miseries of poverty stricken masses. He lamented that instead of giving any relief, the government is multiplying the hardships of poor masses.

Faizi said that an increase of up to Rs9.42 per litre in price of petrol and Rs4.89 per litre in rates of diesel is tantamount to ‘drone attack’ on business community and poor people as well. He urged the government to sense the hardships of poor people and withdraw the increase in petroleum commodities rates.

The SCCI president also said that the cost of industrial production would be increase with the substantial hike in petroleum products and that will bring a new wave of inflation in the country. He added this decision of the government is meant to further create difficulties for general masses. “Essential food commodities were available on subsidized rates in most of the countries in the world during the holy month of Ramazan, but here in Pakistan situation is completely changed wherein price-hike is at peak,” he said. Faiz said the government has justified its decision about increase in prices of petroleum commodities by giving comparison of raw petrol rates in international market for which common man has no source of verification of it, even any change in petroleum prices in the global market.  He said that prices of petroleum commodities are gradually increasing by the government to reduce of budget deficit and fulfill other expenditures, which is strongly condemnable.

The SCCI president said that instead of giving relief to business community, government is taking anti-masses and unwise decisions by putting the country’s economy on stake, which won’t be allowed, he added. He asked the government to take back the recent increase in rates of petroleum products and don’t test the patience of masses.

The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) has resented the yet another hike in the prices of POL products and called upon the government for their immediate withdrawal as it was an anti-business and anti-people decision that would cause manifold increase in the cost of doing business and bring unbearable miseries to the common man.

In a joint statement issued here on Monday, President ICCI Ahmed Hassan Moughal, Senior Vice President Rafat Farid and Vice President Iftikhar Anwar Sethi said that Pakistan was producing major chunk of energy from thermal fuel and hike in POL prices would further increase the electricity cost that would be unaffordable for business and industry.

They said the recent hike just before the holy month of Ramazan would badly squeeze purchasing power of common man leading to great slump in business activities. They said that exorbitant hike in diesel price will further enhance transportation and production costs due to which agricultural, manufacturing and other sectors of the economy would badly suffer.

The move would also discourage new investment in the country as no investor would like to invest in a country where cost of doing business was very high, they added.

The ICCI office bearers further stated that the government has also increased sales tax on POL products that was a great injustice to the business community and the general public. They said that government has made POL products a key source of tax revenue generation that was totally unjustified. They stressed that government should immediately bring down high taxes on POL products and focus on expanding tax net to improve tax revenue.

Ahmed Hassan Moughal said that the economy of Pakistan was already facing many challenges due to rising trade deficit, falling exports, dwindling tax revenue and increasing debts. In these circumstances, giving further hike to POL products would make our exports more uncompetitive in international market and cause further dip in exports.

The ICCI President said that instead of taking measures that would directly affect the general public, business sector and the overall economy, government should focus on creating an enabling environment for private sector and avoid taking decisions that would prove more harmful for the economy.