(May 06, 2019)
President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President All Karachi Industrial Alliance (AKIA), Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and former provincial minister, Mian Zahid Hussain on Monday asked the Prime Minister Imran Khan to reverse the substantial hike in the price of petroleum products. A sharp increase in prices of petroleum products would hit masses, increase the cost of doing business and damage production as well as exports, he said.
The Business Leader while talking with the business community said that in the last few months masses have been burdened by trillions of rupees which has also shaken the confidence of the business community. The masses and the businessmen are not willing to sacrifice more for the inefficiency of different departments, he said.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that the hefty increase in the price of oil will result in inflation and unemployment while many local products will become noncompetitive in the international market. The burden of increasing fuel prices in the international market is immediately put on the masses breaking their back while the benefit is not transferred if the prices recede which is not a good policy, he noted.
The former minister said that repeated currency devaluations and an upward revision in fuel prices are contrary to the government’s claim of improving the life of masses and providing a better climate to businesses. The rupee has already lost 35 percent value against the dollar, people are suffering from high inflation and oil price rise would further squeeze masses and compromise businesses which may lead to unrest, he warned. He said that such an exorbitant increase will put industrial expansion plans on hold, trigger unemployment and unhappiness and damage every facet of the economy.
The veteran business leader said that the mechanism to fix energy prices is not transparent and the reasons given to increase are mostly unconvincing. He said that petrol jumped above Rs 100 per litre in 2013-14 when the oil price in international market crossed $100 per barrel, now it is traded at almost $68 per barrel, therefore, the proposed hike is not justified. The government recently allowed a massive increase in the prices of petroleum products as the price of petrol was raised by Rs 9.42 to Rs 108.31 and kerosene price lifted by Rs 7.46 per litre to Rs 96.77. The government also increased the sales tax on the motor spirit by 10 percent, high-speed diesel by 4 percent, kerosene oil by 9 percent and light diesel oil by 8 percent which is unjustified.