President Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) Junaid Esmail Makda, while totally rejecting OGRA’s decision to raise gas prices, requested the government to immediately withdraw the exorbitant hike as it would substantially raise the cost of doing business and prove detrimental for the CNG Sector and General Industries.
In a statement issued, Junaid Makda criticized the government for not taking relevant stakeholders and Karachi Chamber on board prior to increasing gas tariffs, which poses a serious question mark on government’s claims about ‘Change’. “We don’t see any change as the previous governments also used to impose such decisions without any consultation. The increase in gas tariffs would ultimately result in fostering the inflation, which will terribly affect lives of the poor masses”, he added.
While referring to a recent meeting of KCCI’s delegation with Finance Minister Asad Umer in Islamabad, President KCCI stated that Finance Minister was thoroughly briefed and cautioned about the repercussions of any increase in gas tariff in the said meeting but it was really unfortunate that no heed has been paid to KCCI’s request and gas tariffs have been raised exorbitantly which would not only create a difficult situation for the SMEs Sector and other local industries due to increased cost of doing business but would also lead to closure of hundreds of CNG Stations across the country and intensify the hardship for the poor public and trigger unemployment across the country.
He pointed out that CNG Industry has been under consistent threat due to instable policies particularly the policy to carry out intense Gas Load-shedding and raise gas prices by 40 percent, which would result in completely halting and penalizing the Transport Sector. “CNG Stations in Sindh are already facing three days closure every week and the Tariff of Rs.700 per MMBTU, which was already the highest paid tariff as compared to all other sectors, has been enhanced further to Rs.980 per MMBTU, resulting in raising CNG Sale price in Sindh from Rs.82 per kg to around Rs.102 per kg against the existing petrol prices at Rs.93 per liter whereas according to Petroleum Policy, parity in between 30 to 35 percent has to be maintained between Petrol and CNG but it has been set aside and not considered “, he added.
He was of the opinion that the said increase will reduce the economical essence of poor man’s fuel by making CNG costlier than Petrol.
He said that CNG was introduced in Pakistan to provide an economical fuel to the Transport Sector especially to the lower middle class group as the difference between Petrol and CNG has always been substantially reasonable but unfortunately, the recent increase has jeopardized the strategic essence and the importance of CNG Industry by making it less attractive for common man that would lead to complete collapse and closure of this huge Industry, besides depriving the government from huge revenue being collected through taxes from this particular industry and subsequently, raising the import bill of petrol by $1.2 billion.
Commenting on recently constituted Council of Business Leaders, Junaid Makda stated that all members of this Council are known faces who use to remain part of various Councils constituted in the past during Musharraf’s, PPP’s and PML-N’s eras and now they have once again been provided the opportunity to play role in the current Council. “Although PTI government talks aloud about Change but surprisingly, no new faces have been introduced at the Council that remains the same as it had been since last almost two decades in which the economy, instead of recovering, continued to plunge into further crisis”, he said, adding that need of the hour was to add the actual stakeholders from the business and industrial community in the Council as they are well aware with ground realities and in a much better position to give suggestions and highlight repercussions of numerous policies directly or indirectly affecting trade and industry.
He requested Finance Minister to withdraw OGRA’s notification and be keep it in abeyance till all the stakeholders are taken into confidence. “We are ready to support the government as and whenever needed”, he assured.