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PESHAWAR: Rejecting the re-gasified liquefied natural gas levy by the Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited on industrial and commercial units in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa as illegal and unjustified, the business community of the province has announced it will challenge the move in the court of law.

Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Zahidullah Khan Shinwari told reporters at the Peshawar Press Club on Wednesday that as the industrial growth had already declined Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to the prolonged war against terrorism, the RLNG levy would cause the further flight of capital and closure of industries in the province.

He said the imposition of RLNG levy on industries and commercial consumers was illegal and unjustified and therefore, the business community would agitate against it.

SCCI chief fears move to cause further flight of capital, closure of industries in province

Accompanied by industrialist and PTI Senator Nauman Wazir, president of Industrial Estate Association Hayatabad, industrialists, and other senior traders, Mr Shinwari said KP had been producing 340 million cubic feet gas, which was 12 per cent of the country’s total gas production, while its demand was between 170-200 mmcfd, but ironically, the remaining gas had been diverted to Punjab.

He said it was unfair and illegal to impose the RLNG levy in the province, whose gas production was surplus, and that it would tantamount to the ‘economic murder’ of the terrorism-affected businessmen in the province.

The SCCI chief said industries faced a crisis-like situation in the province due to flawed government policies, unfriendly behaviour of the relevant departments and their disinterest in their development.

“We have been left with no other option but to move the court against the RLNG levy,” he said.

Mr Shinwari said the businessmen would also speak to the leadership of political parties on the matter for support.

He also accused the Peshawar Electric Supply Company of being indifferent to the problems of business community and said the constant power tripping, low voltage, and denial of new electricity connections to industrial units had slowed down industrial productivity and growth in the province.

He demanded the government appoint a businessmen-friendly chief to the Pesco.

Mr Shinwari complained about the poor performance of the government’s flagship organisations in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, including KPBOIT, KPEZMDC, Pedo, KPOGCL and Tevta, and declared it the biggest hurdle to the industrialisation and economic development of the province.

He said the promotion of Pak-Afghan trade was linked to the new transit trade agreement.

The SCCI chief said some ATTA-related issues had led to the decline of the bilateral trade volume from $1 billion to $500 million.

He urged both Islamabad and Kabul to initiate talks to immediately remove all such issues to promote bilateral trade and economic relations.

About the tax amnesty scheme announced by the federal government recently, Mr Shinwari said the chamber had accepted the economic reform package conditionally and that the scheme was an attempt to whiten black money.

He, however, said the government should take effective measures for broadening the existing tax base and attract the maximum possible investment to create job opportunities in the country.

The SCCI chief also said the Peshawar Bus Rapid Transport project was launched by the government in haste and without consulting businessmen and traders and thus, causing them huge financial losses.

He suggested that the provincial government waive off taxes and cess for the relief of traders.

Mr Shinwari also sought the government’s intervention to check de-industrialisation of the province.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2018