Islamabad- PTI has condemned the power tariff raise and gas price hikes imposed by the government as a New Year gift, to an already traumatized and grieving nation.

This was stated in a press conference by Vice Chairman Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Central Information Secretary Dr Shireen Mazari and MNA Asad Umar today.

Dr Mazari said the government instead of providing some support and relief to the nation at this difficult time has heartlessly inflicted a grave economic cost to their already dismal lives. The imposition of 5% additional GST on petroleum products, above the normal 17 %, is just daylight robbery. At a time when the citizens were just beginning to enjoy the global fall in oil prices, the government has chosen to deprive them of this rational price advantage by imposing an arbitrary GST increase in clear violation of the SC order that bars the government from increasing the tax burden through an executive order.

Asad Umar pointed out that earlier the Government had committed to the IMF to raise power tariffs by 7% and raise additional Rs 140 bn thru GIDC on gas. However, the memorandum sent by FM Dar in December to the IMF stated that the government could not enforce these measures due to the PTI protests. Now the government has once again resorted to draconian measures to appease the IMF and get more loans. New taxes are being imposed on power bills without approvals from Parliament and despite stay orders from LHC.

Asad Umar stated that in November 2014 the government imposed two new taxes including Rs 1.5 per unit equalization surcharge and Rs 0.30 per unit debt surcharge on the already burdened consumers. Asad Umar reminded the media of how the Govt had increased tariffs by up to 80% in October 2013. Not contend with these draconian measures, the government is now set to put new Rs 0.6 per unit tax on consumers under the heading of additional surcharge.

He said NEPRA advised government to reduce tariffs by Rs 2.97 per unit in November on account of over 40% reduction in international oil prices; he said adding that the notification by the government is to reduce by Rs 2.37 per unit only. These measures come despite a stay order of LHC on 27 November against collection of debt surcharge.

He said that it also shocking is that government has collected Rs 35bn from consumers over the last five years on account of Neelum Jhelum power project, yet the project remains stalled and costs are escalating. PMLN is determined to make this project into another white elephant like the billion dollars Nandipur project.

Similarly, the government has committed to the IMF to impose additional surcharge on gas from 1st Jan 2015, this was to collect Rs 140 billion additional tax as committed to the IMF, he concluded.