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Nation wide strike against inflated electricity bills and rising inflation successful

Pakistan Business Forum

DNA

Lahore: Pakistan Business Forum (PBF) says nation wide strike against the inflated and excessive electricity bills which is unbearable now on the pocket of the common man was successful. Traders participated properly and markets was shut down in all cities.

Talking to presser on Saturday, PBF Spokesperson Zainab Jatoi said the purpose was not to further destabilize government but to call upon stake holders in order to find solution.

Although it’s against PBF policy but we had to intervene as the collapse of the businesses is at verge; she said.

Zainab Jatoi also briefed that the main reason of soaring energy cost is the power purchase agreements signed with the power producers.

She observed that the rising interest rates, the uncertain rupee value, soaring fuel prices, higher gas and power tariffs, and unabated food inflation were extremely serious issues that needed to be addressed by the government on a priority basis. She said that since the arrival of the caretaker government, dollar has gone out of control now.

The new finance minister should call on the real stakeholders to finalise policies.

PBF Spokesperson stressed that the government should change the basic tariff of IPPs in rupee instead of US dollars as this change would save billions of rupees of the national exchequer and provide electricity at affordable cost to the trade and industry, making exports competitive in the international market.

Right now business community cannot compete with the international market in the current price of electricity. It is impossible to do business in the current conditions and businesses are closing down, in this regard the government should focus on alternative sources of energy to provide cheap electricity, create a conducive investment environment for tax collection; she said

As the inflated power bills triggered country-wide protests in all cities demanding that the government should abolish taxes on electricity, saying increase in electricity bills is unbearable now.

We also must understand that Pakistan had made energy cost highest in the region and stressed that to save the industry, the government should renegotiate PPAs with IPPs in the best national interest.

Now due to the unprecedented depreciation of rupee in our history, the import of industrial raw materials had become very expensive which was pushing up the production cost; the spokesperson added.

PBF Secretary General Punjab, Arif Ehsan Malik was of the view that the government could mobilize the required resources through increasing the number of taxpayers, reducing line losses and power theft, and ending exemptions to narrow the fiscal deficit instead of increasing the power tariff. He said the last increase in power tariff left the industrial sector, particularly the export industry like textile, uncompetitive in comparison to regional competitors. This may lead to the loss of more export orders and render many more people jobless.

Despite the tariff surge, arif malik said, power companies would not be able to recover the targeted revenue loss of around 28-30%. At the same time, it will force many consumers to stop paying their bills, which have become unbearable. He asked the government to undertake fundamental reforms in the power sector to make electricity affordable. Besides, the government should launch a crackdown on the habitual power bill defaulters like putting them behind bars.

Arif Malik also pointed out that a large number of industrial units had closed down in the past one year due to the government’s strategy to cool the overheated economy. Not a single company is operating at 100% production capacity these days.






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