ICCI, KCCI show concerns over further hike in gas tariff

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ICCI

ISLAMABAD, FEB 17 (DNA) – Ahsan Zafar Bakhtawari, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), and Iftikhar Ahmed Sheikh, President, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) during a meeting at ICCI have shown great concerns over the federal cabinet’s approval of 67 percent increase in gas tariffs as it would increase production cost, reduce industrial activities and badly hurt exports. They demanded that the government should reconsider this decision and take solid measures to ensure competitive energy tariffs for the industry to boost industrialization and exports.

Ahsan Zafar Bakhtawari, President, ICCI said that the economy of Pakistan is in deep trouble as the manufacturing sector is still struggling to recover, exports of the textile sector have declined by around 3% during July-January 2023-24, foreign exchange reserves of US$ 8 billion are insufficient to cover only 6 weeks of imports and Pakistan needs US$ 22 billion in external financing during 2024-25 to meet its financing needs. He said that to cope with these challenges, Pakistan urgently needs to boost industrialization and exports. However, the repeated hikes in electricity and gas tariffs have made the cost of doing business very high, hurting production activities and making our exports uncompetitive in the international market. He stressed that the government should reconsider its decision to further hike gas prices to save the private sector from further problems.

Iftikhar Ahmed Sheikh, President, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that the industry of Karachi was demanding a reduction in gas tariffs to improve industrial activities, but instead of meeting their demand, the government has further increased the gas tariffs, creating more problems for the industry that would slow down the economic growth of the country. He urged that the new government in consultation with the private sector should fix the utility tariffs for the next 10 years to enable the better growth of business activities and revive the economy.

Zafar Bakhtawari, former President ICCI and Secretary General UBG stressed that the government should privatize all loss-making utility companies to reduce their burden on the national exchequer and improve their performance.

Both Chambers called for political stability in the country, which is the key requirement to achieve economic stability. They urged that the new government should give top priority to promoting ease of doing business to make Pakistan a hub of business and investment activities and enable it to emerge as a strong economy. Both chambers agreed to work in close cooperation to address the key issues of the business community and create a conducive business environment.

Muhamad Ejaz Abbasi former President ICCI, Maqsood Tabish, Khalid Chaudhry, and others were present on the occasion.