PESHAWAR: Transporters and business community have rejected the hike in prices of petroleum products by Rs30 per litre and called upon the federal government to review its decision keeping in view the weak economic condition of the masses.

“The owners of public transport vehicles unilaterally increased the fare in a state of compulsion because they cannot afford to run their vehicles in the prevailing situation,” Public Transport Owners Association president Khan Zaman Afridi told Dawn here on Friday.

He claimed that in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa they had increased the fares by up to 7 per cent on different routes though the petrol price had been increased by about 16 per cent.

He added that in other cities the transporters had announced fare hike of about 20 per cent.

Mr Afridi said that owners of vehicles using compressednatural gas (CNG) had not increased the fare so far despite surge in the gas price about a week ago.

Seven per cent increase in transport fares announced

He said the decision about hike in fares had been taken in a meeting of all transporters in the provincial metropolis.

Meanwhile, the business community also urged the federal government to withdraw its decision as the hike in fuel prices would increase problems for the industrialists, traders and daily wagers.

Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Hasnain Khurshid Ahmad said in a statement that the government’s decision would badly affect the already feeble national economy.

He said the cost of industrial production would escalate after the whopping increase in prices of petroleum products that would bring a fresh wave of inflation in the country.

He said that the purchasing power of the common man had already weakened owing to hike in prices of essential commodities.

Mr Ahmad said that the business community had faced many difficulties owing to Covid-19 pandemic and terrorism, but now running a business or and industry in the prevailing situation had become extremely difficult.

He asked the federal government to take appropriate measures for supporting the business community.

The SCCI chief said that the frequent increase in prices of electricity, gas and petroleum products was tantamount to pushing the fragile economy towards a collapse.

Mr Ahmad said that industrialists were being compelled to shut their units in the present scenario, which would trigger unemployment in the country. He criticised the Shehbaz Sharif-led coalition government for taking decisions on IMF’s dictation and suggested that the rulers should control their unnecessary expenses to overcome the economic issues instead of burdening the masses.

He said that issues like decline in exports and foreign exchange reserves and trade deficit had been created due to inconsistency in economic policies in the country.

The SCCI president asked the government to take decisions after proper consultations with the relevant stakeholders in order to stabilise the country’s economy.

In Shangla, the residents and transporters rejected the hefty increase in prices of petroleum products and demanded the federal government to immediately withdraw the decision and give relief to the masses.

Talking to mediapersons, they feared that it would become impossible for them to afford travel and buying essential commodities amid rising inflation.

A resident Gul Mohammad said he used to travel from home to a bazaar in Alpuri in mini jeep paying a fare of Rs120, but now the transporters would increase the fare.

Altaf Khyali, a cab driver, said the passengers in Bisham were not ready to pay Rs600 fare for Mansehra and it would be difficult to daily convince the people about the hike in fares due to surge in petrol prices.

He said the government should not have increased the fuel prices as the people were already facing record hike in commodity prices.

Published in Dawn, May 28th, 2022

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