Concern expressed over move to increased petro prices, electricity and oil: Zahid Hussain

Chairman of National Business Group Pakistan, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum, and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday expressed concern over news regarding the planned increase in the price of petroleum products from Rs6 to Rs9.

The move will increase the pace of inflation and it will reduce millions of masses and thousands of businesses to bankruptcy, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that government should realise the current challenging situation and defer the plan to increase the price of petroleum products otherwise it will open floodgates for inflation.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that an oil price hike in the international market and a weaker rupee has prompted the government to reduce taxes imposed on this sector which reduced revenue but now some circles are proposing a hike to compensate for losses.

A hike in petroleum prices is according to the wishes of IMF but against the national interests therefore the government should fill the revenue gap through direct taxes, he demanded.

The business leader said that government wants to revive stalled IMF programme and secure a loan of one billion dollars, therefore, it has agreed to increase the price of petroleum products and revise the electricity tariff.

The government has a target of earning Rs610 billion in petroleum levy but it is generating Rs40 billion per month which is below the target of Rs50.83 billion per month which is not acceptable to IMF.

He noted that the government has assured at the beginning of the current year that the electricity tariff will not be increased but it backtracked on the promise.

Despite the recent increase, the Power Division has proposed an Rs1.68 increase in the per unit price of electricity and a summary has been sent to Cabinet for approval. The move will increase tariff to Rs17.83 while masses will get electricity for Rs20 per unit putting an additional burden of Rs139 billion on them.

The move will increase power theft which is already touching the mark of Rs250 billion, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that the government allocated a subsidy of Rs 330 billion for the power sector in the budget which was insufficient but the government is now unable to fulfil its promise owing to its weak financial position.

Therefore, the government has decided to avoid reforms in the power sector and use the shortcut of burdening the masses again. 

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