Mr. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, President FPCCI, has strongly condemned the massive hike in petroleum products, i.e. petrol by PKR. 19.95 per liter to make it 272.95 & high speed diesel by PKR. 19.90 per liter to 273.40 now. It will further fuel the inflationary pressures resulting in further increase in cost of living and cost of doing business – which is already the highest in the entire region, he added.
Mr. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh explained that he forewarned the government much before that they need to address the teething problems in the import of the Russian crude, i.e. handling of oil cargoes; adjustments required vis-à-vis refining processes and commercial transactional procedures to settle oil payments. Nonetheless, the government failed to listen to us; else, we would have more Russian crude by now, which is now more than 30 percent cheaper as compared to international markets today, he added.
Mr. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh particularly highlighted that the international oil markets are in a flux and instability; and, all national & international economists agree that the demand for the petroleum products internationally will remain low for a couple of years due to slowing down of the global economy. That should have convinced the economic managers of the country to hold such an enormous, counterintuitive and counterproductive raise in petroleum prices – while, the domestic demand by refineries will not even cross 150,000 barrels / day for the imported crude due to unprecedented slowing down of the national economy.
Mr. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh reminded that just last week the government has announced PKR. 7.50 per kWh raise in electricity prices; despite FPCCI’s repeated demands that electricity and petroleum prices should be kept stable – if not subsidized or reduced for the export-oriented industry. He questioned that how the existing export orders can be met in a profitable manner after the double blow of electricity and petroleum price hikes?
FPCCI Chief has expressed his profound concerns that domestic and international demand for Pakistani products will be at an all-time low as inflation has severely affected the purchasing power of the domestic consumers and, for international & regional markets, Pakistani products have become uncompetitive. Government policies make no economic sense, he added.
Mr. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh recalled that the government has missed all macroeconomic indicators & their targets for FY23 and, for FY24, these two bad decisions will have a lasting effect on all economic performance indicators: be it exports, industrial production, inflation, employment generation and revenues.
Mr. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh expressed his dismay that the Prime Minister and his economic team is running the economic affairs in a consultation-less manner; and, being the President of the apex body, he is under mounting pressures from all 250 chambers, associations and trade bodies to raise their voice through FPCCI.