PESHAWAR: The business community here has expressed serious concern over the federal government’s plan to increase power tariff by Rs4.97 per unit during the remaining three months of the current financial year and feared that such steps will lead to increase in poverty in the country.
Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Sherbaz Bilour said in a statement here on Friday that the government had assured the IMF of increasing electricity price by Rs4.97 per unit and petroleum products by Rs30 per litre. He vowed that the business community would resist any such decision.
He said that instead of increasing power tariff, the government should take practical steps to overcome the line losses of power companies and improve the transmission system. He demanded that legal action should be taken against those involved in Independent Power Producers (IPPs) agreements.
Mr Bilour claimed that the national economy was on the brink of collapse owing to Covid-19 pandemic and it would not be possible for the business community to pay the heavy utility bills in the prevailing situation.
He said the hike in electricity tariff was unjustified and as such unacceptable to the business community. He asked the government to revisit its decision in the best interest of the people.
The chamber president noted that the country’s economy was already unstable and the imposition of unwise policies would further complicate the situation. He said the industrial sector would be unable to maintain production process in the prevailing situation, which would cause increase in unemployment in the country.
He claimed that the government had given autonomy to Nepra to determine electricity prices under the IMF pressure, saying that the move was undemocratic.
The chamber president said the frequent hikes in power tariff and promulgation of ordinance to fulfil IMF condition was a sign of slavery. He asked the government to announce special incentives for the Covid-hit businesses and industries to revive the national economy.
Published in Dawn, April 10th, 2021