President Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan has said that the announcement of increase in rates of electricity ranging from Rs.1.09 to Rs.2.80 has come as a shock to the industries based in Karachi. This is yet another blow to the trade and industry which is already suffering from losses as a result of lockdowns during Covid-19 pandemic and again due to devastating rainfalls in the city which has caused losses in billions of rupees.
In a statement issued, President KCCI rejected outright the ECC’s decision to increase the rates of Electricity by Rs1.09 to Rs2.89 per unit for various consumers of Karachi who are in dire financial straits due to torrential rainfalls and before that Covid-19 pandemic.
He urged Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance & Revenue Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh to immediately withdraw this unjust and ill-timed hike in electricity tariff which would further aggravate the hardships for Karachiites who are struggling really hard to recover from devastating impact of coronavirus pandemic and subsequently the massive damage to their assets including buildings, warehouses, machinery and materials. The damage is yet to be assessed when the water is cleared and some normalcy is restored.
He pointed out that ECC and higher authorities have shown utter disregard for the miseries and losses suffered by people of Karachi, by approving yet another electricity tariff hike because ECC had already imposed a tariff increase in July this year by Rs2.89 per with immediate effect. Before the industrial, commercial and residential consumers could absorb the tariff hike in July’ 2020, yet another increase was approved to further squeeze the consumers in a calamity hit city.
“Indeed it is a huge disappointment that the Federal Government, instead of providing relief to the already burdened citizens of Karachi during the ongoing difficult times, continues to take anti-business and anti-Karachi actions. It is well known fact that the economic hub of Pakistan today is passing through worst possible crisis and suffering due to a crumbling infrastructure, lockdowns and urban flooding due to the heaviest rainfall in 90 year history”, he added.
On the one hand, the Prime Minister and Army Chief have shown their resolve to rescue the city of Karachi from complete destruction and economic fallout of natural as well as man-made disasters, while the ECC and honorable Advisors are taking decisions which are contrary to the commitments made by the Prime Minister and COAS, he opined.
President KCCI, while addressing the PM and COAS, appealed that “For God’s sake, please have mercy on poor citizens and the anxious business & industrial community of Karachi which is battling for survival”.
He stressed that it would be impossible for the electricity consumers in Karachi to bear another increase in electricity tariff being charged retrospectively as everyone in this city is in dire financial straits. They are already badly hit by the inflation, high cost of doing business, reduced industrial output, liquidity crunch and rising unemployment. In such a situation, it is really callous on part of ECC to approve electricity tariff increase and overburden Karachiites.
Agha Shahab pointed out that on one hand, the government has been pushing the business & industrial community to enhance their productivity and exports so that more wealth and employment opportunities could be generated in order to improve the ailing economy but how is it going to be possible when on the other hand, ECC gives go ahead to electricity tariff hike which by all means is an anti-business and anti-people move. “The economy and businesses would only flourish when the cost of doing business is brought down by substantially reducing the electricity, gas and water tariffs while all other exorbitant taxes and duties must also be reduced and the government will also have to make all-out efforts to rebuilt Karachi’s dilapidated infrastructure which has been the top most reason behind the poor industrial performance of all the industries situated in seven industrial zones of Karachi”, Agha Shahab said.
“The decision makers will have to understand that if the cost of input rises, it would lead to poor performance and reduced output of the industry, resulting in lower revenue collection, shrinking employment opportunities and making the production uncompetitive in the domestic as well as international markets”, he added.
He hoped that keeping in view all the above mentioned facts, PM’s Advisor Hafeez Shaikh would review ECC’s unjust decision and immediately announce withdrawal of electricity tariff hike which would certainly be warmly welcomed not only by the business & industrial community but also by people belonging to all walks of life.