Power tariff hike to hit export efforts, warn Karachi industrialists

Published January 24, 2021
The industrial sector has urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to take back what was described as the totally unwise and ill-timed decisions of raising electricity tariff by 15 per cent. — Reuters/File
The industrial sector has urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to take back what was described as the totally unwise and ill-timed decisions of raising electricity tariff by 15 per cent. — Reuters/File

KARACHI: The industrial sector has urged Prime Minister Imran Khan to take back what was described as the totally unwise and ill-timed decisions of raising electricity tariff by 15 per cent and closing down captive power plants which would devastate local production and exports besides sabotaging the government’s efforts to enhance the exports.

Businessmen Group (BMG) chairman Zubair Motiwala, president of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Shariq Vohra and Pakistan Apparel Forum chairman Muhammad Jawed Bilwani in a joint statement said this was not the right time to impose such anti-business and anti-export decisions — especially because exports are picking up and exporters are getting substantial number of orders.

“Such decisions terribly affect our image as the buyers sitting abroad become doubtful whether we will be able to fulfill our delivery commitment on time or not,” they said, adding the government has taken the decision of raising power tariff without consultation with the stakeholders.

The industries have communicated to the KCCI that their fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution must not be usurped and it is the industrial lawful right to get the gas for their captive power plants (CPPs) to operate their industries, they said.

If the gas is discontinued, the industrialists reserve their legitimate right to invoke Article 199 of the Constitution and approach the court of law to safeguard their lawful rights and legitimate businesses, they warned.

They said power tariff hike and suspension in gas supply would affect the performance of general industries which are an important part of the supply chain of export-oriented industries hence, the general industries in one way or the other participate in the export activities. Consequently, it will also have a devastating trickledown effect on the trading, wholesale and retail networks which will ultimately create total chaos and uncertainty.

These decisions would favour our competitors from India and Bangladesh who would take advantage of the situation by attempting to somehow get all the orders achieved by Pakistani exporters shifted to respective countries, they feared.

When gas was discovered in the country, the industries were the first consumers while it is an irony that the industries of Karachi have been continuously victimised and their deserving share of gas was also been given to K-Electric in the past.

The industries highly deplored and condemn as to why the government closed eyes and allowed KE to install plants to produce electricity from gas without signing any GSA in the past and it is a matter of fact that the country has been facing an acute shortage of gas for the last 10-15 years, they said.

They said that on the one hand, the government has placed embargo on new industrial gas connections since 2011 while on the other hand the it is providing domestic gas connections and has also given gas to KE without signing any GSA which is contradictory and discriminatory, they deplored.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2021

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