Press conference

29 October 2021

Traders flay govt 'anti-business' policies, hike in PoL, electricity, gas prices

PESHAWAR: Businessmen in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while describing increasing prices of electricity, gas and petroleum products, depreciation of Pakistani rupee against dollar, couple with additional burden of foreign debts as the present government sheer incompetence and reflection of inconsistency economic policies and asked to cut down levies on petrol commodities to provide relief of poverty-stricken people.

Speaking at a news conference here at chamber house here on Friday, Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Hasnain Khurshid Ahmad said that the government has continuously made claims on putting the country’s economy in the right direction, but actually, it had brought on collapse during the last three years.

The SCCI chief noted that neither improvement in the country’s exports were seen but the trade deficit has been further widened and brought the economy under severe stress after obtaining further loans from foreign monetary institutions. He criticized the country’s economy for being mortgaged with international financial institutions.

Furthermore, he observed the revenue collection targets had not been made difficult but impossible. He said the selling of electricity and gas at high rates in the province, wherein production is surplus, tantamount to usurping constitutional rights of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Hasnain Khurshid asked the government to take back hike in electricity, gas and petrol prices forthwith. Otherwise, he warned the business community will compel on agitation.

Brushing aside claims of improving Pakistan’s position in rank of Ease of Doing Business, the SCCI president said, according to rough estimates, the country's rank has been further down in EoDB instead of any upgrading.

He said the increasing trade deficit, devaluation of Pakistan rupee against dollar, declining exports are a glaring example of the present government incompetence and flawed economic policies.

Although, he said a nominal firmness in Pakistani rupee against dollar was seen after pledging financial aid by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. However, he said the fresh Saudi loans would further put burden on the national economy as this is aid not grant, which would be paid off with interest, which couldn’t be in the best interest of the country.

Besides, SCCI Senior Vice President Imran Khan Mohmand, former FPCCI president Ghazanfar Bilour, former president Riaz Arshad, former vice presidents Abdul Jalil Jan, Haris Mufti,  executive members Fazal Muqeem Khan, Farhad Asfandyar, Ejaz Khan Afridi, Naeem Qasmi, Ghlum Bilal Javed, Sohail Javed, Amin Babar, a large number of traders, exporters and importers were present during the presser.

Hasnain Khurshid blamed the increasing line losses of power distribution companies are behind the hike in power tariffs and expressed anguish over the DISCOs inefficiency to control over the line losses and improvement in power transmission system.

He condemned the supply of natural gas to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on RLNG rates, wherein the gas is producing in surplus quantity. He demanded uninterrupted power and gas supply to industries, trading hubs and bazaars and markets.   

The SCCI president slammed the FBR and its subordinate institutions along with bodies/organisations relating to trade, industries and commerce for harassment, black mailing and unfriendly attitude with the business community. He observed that flight of capitals has been increased after misbehaviour of the institutions with the community.  

Hasnain Khurshid during the press conference complained Chief Minister Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has no spare time for meeting with the business community as the chamber has written several letters for this purpose during the last three years, but no response was yet to be given in this regard.

He asked: “When the Chief Minister was not serious toward the resolution of the business community, how could the economy have flourished? He made it clear that if the government would not shun anti-business policies and not take back decisions of hike in electricity, gas and petrol prices, the business community will have no other option, but to launch a protest campaign.

Sajjad Aziz,

Secretary General, Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry