LAHORE: The general public, business community and trade bodies and associations have unanimously rejected the continuous hike in prices of petroleum, oil and lubricants (POL) and severally criticised the PTI government for its failure to control the rates of essential commodities, inflation and dollar exchange and related issues multiplied by fast devaluation of Pakistani rupee.

They have demanded the government take measures to set things in order to give relief to common people.

“Since the day one of this government, the people from all walks of life, especially the workers couldn’t feel a meagre sigh of relief,” Ijaz, a worker deplored who suggested that the PTI government should go now as it had completely failed to deliver.

“We gather here daily for having some work but hardly find labour three to four days a week. We are too much worried,” he said while standing on a roadside, waiting for work.

According to Ilyas, an employee of a private sector organisation, the situation has become terrible for him and his colleagues.

“My monthly salary is just Rs27,000 per month. But since this government took over, I continue borrowing money from my friends, relatives etc on a frequent basis to keep my kitchen operational,” Ilyas said.

“Sometimes we feel, we will be no more in the near future if the government continues increasing prices of POL, gas/electricity and other commodities,” he lamented.

Talking to Dawn, All Pakistan Anjuman-i-Tajiran General Secretary Naeem Mir termed the government incompetent to deal with any issue in the country.

“They are not only incompetent but also corrupt. It has proved that this not the government but a group of mafias, looters and plunderers.”

Mr Mir said keeping in view the public concerns, the association had decided to add the price hike in its various points on which it was going to stage a mega sit-in against the anti-business government policies at Faizabad (Rawalpindi) on Oct 26.

All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) Chairman Abdul Rahim Nasir was of the view that the surge in the petroleum products prices had impacted and disturbed everything.

“The increase in POL prices raises the cost of transportation, raw material, electricity, general transport, essential commodities, eatables, inflation etc. It even disturbs our exports as due to increase in cost incurred on manufacturing, the export goods become costly, making the buyers unable to purchase and sell them in their own markets on higher prices.” Mr Nasir advised the government to focus on gas/oil exploration, discover reserves, set up refineries and reduce import of luxury goods etc.

“When there would be reduction in the import bill, the dollar exchange rate will automatically attract a downward trend and strengthen rupee. As a trickle-down effect, the prices of commodities would ultimately start coming down,” he maintained.

The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said the massive hike in petroleum prices would further increase pressures on economy that is already confronted with multiple challenges like inflation, devaluation of rupee and mounting debt. The chamber termed the recent wave of inflation affecting Pakistan’s economy badly.

“Inflation for the month of September clocked in at 9pc. This exorbitant rise in the inflationary pressures has curtailed the purchasing power of the general citizens and the business community. Furthermore, it has squeezed the liquidity in the economy by escalating the cost of doing business,” LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir said.

He said the government’s policy response to the inflation needs a paradigm shift. Instead of increasing the interest rates to control inflation, the government should work on increasing the domestic production, industrialisation and export growth.

“There is also a need to strengthen the price control mechanism in the country to control the food inflation, especially of the essential items,” he added.

Published in Dawn, October 17th, 2021

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