HYDERABAD: The Hyderabad Chamber of Small Traders and Small Industry has criticised the Economic Coordination Committee’s decision to raise gas prices by up to 45pc and urged all political leaders and present rulers to withdraw the increase immediately in order to restore business community’s confidence and help stabilize economy.

In a statement issued here on Thursday the chamber’s president Mohammad Farooq Shaikhani termed the step disastrous for industries and raise questions over caretaker federal government’s moral justification for taking such decisions with long terms impacts, especially after 2024 general election.

He said that the additional burden of Rs242 billion had been imposed on consumers solely to comply with IMF conditions, which would have adverse impact on businesses and general public.

He said that revised gas prices, reaching Rs100 per MMBTU for protected consumers, Rs300 per MMBTU for non-protected consumers and Rs900 per MMBTU for bulk consumers, were highly detrimental to already struggling industries in Pakistan.

He expressed serious concern over challenges being faced by Hyderabad’s world famous glass bangle industry and said it had already faced closure of 80pc of factories and unemployment for over 200,000 people due to gas loadshedding and previous gas price hikes.

He feared the remaining factories might shut down after the latest increase, which was bound to trigger lay-offs and exacerbate the problem of unemployment in Hyderabad.

He said the caretaker government’s plan to meet IMF conditions would result in closure of more industries, lay-offs, potential rise in street crimes and bankruptcy of manufacturing units, which would negatively impact the economy.

He urged leaders of political parties, who were to form new government, to reconsider the decision and reminded them that utilities were not exploited for economic gains in developed countries.

He asserted the government should focus on providing essential facilities to promote industrial growth, rather than escalating gas and electricity prices without proper planning.

Published in Dawn, February 16th, 2024

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