The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry has shown great concerns over the 5 to 11 percent hike in petroleum products prices and called upon the government to withdraw this increase urgently as it will have negative impact on business and economic activities and bring more problems for the common man.
Sheikh Amir Waheed, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that the inflation in December has already gone up to 4.6 percent due to increase in petroleum prices and regulatory duty and the recent hike in POL prices would further increase inflation that would cut the purchasing power of the consumers and lead to further slump in business activities.
He said the economy of Pakistan was already facing many challenges as trade deficit had increased by over 28 percent during the first five months of current fiscal year (July to November). He said the main cause of rising trade deficit was almost double growth in imports that went up by more than 21 percent during the first five months of current fiscal year compared to the same period of last year. In this scenario, giving 5 to 11 percent increase in POL products would further enhance the cost of doing business and affect exports.
ICCI President said that though the price of crude oil in international market has crossed $ 60/barrel, but instead of making immediate transfer of its impact on to the consumers, government should have cut heavy taxes and duties imposed on petroleum products to save the trade and industry as well as to the general public from further trouble.
He said for the last many years, Pakistan’s exports have shown a declining trend due to lack of supportive measures from the government side. The result was that our exports were struggling at around $ 21 billion in 2017, while the exports of our close neighbors India and Bangladesh have increased to over $ 275 billion and over $ 34 billion respectively during the same period. In this situation, giving hike to POL price would further cause further fall in our exports.
Sheikh Amir Waheed stressed that government should immediately withdraw the recent hike in POL prices and avoid taking such measures, especially at a time when the trade and industry was struggling for survival. He was of the view that the industry would be the major victim of hike in petroleum prices that was one of its major raw materials. He said if not taken back, hike in POL prices would have a negative impact on the overall economy as it would affect the industrial production, enhance transportation cost and reduce competitiveness of Pakistani exports in the international market, besides increasing inflation in the country.