LAHORE The business community, manufacturers and agriculturists while rejecting the massive 20 per cent increase in gas prices planned by the government, said that it would cast devastating repercussions on the national economy, ousting the export-oriented industries from the international export market therefore it would be wiser on the part of the government if the plans for hike in gas tariff are shelved. LCCI President Shahzad Ali Malik said that the increase in gas tariff would further jack up inflation, which according to official figures at present is around 15-16 per cent. The textile is one of the most value-added and export-oriented sectors in Pakistan which accounts for more than 60 percent of total exports of the country. 95 per cent of its inputs are locally produced and by making energy out of their reach, government is in fact curbing the use of local inputs, he added. He said that even the slightest raise in the cost of production, at this critical juncture, would, therefore, spell doom and oust Pakistani merchandise from the international export market which would deprive the exchequer of much-needed valuable foreign exchange to the tune of billions of dollars. He argued that the contention which has been portrayed by gas companies time and again that their prices are cheaper than several other countries is illogical because the prices quoted by them are not co-related with the cost of living index and hence do not depict the true picture. He urged the Prime Minister, Yousaf Raza Gillani, not to grant approval to any such proposal aimed at earning bad name for the government in the larger interests of the economy. PIAF Chairman Sohail Lashari said that government has no justification for making tariff hike recommendation in the wake of irritating energy crisis, bad law and order situation, high electricity rates and markup in double digits. The industrial productions are already at its lowest ebb and any further increase in gas or electricity prices is bound to cause irreparable loss to the over all economy therefore it would be wiser to keep the decision pending, they added. He urged the government to withdraw plans aimed at a massive increase in gas prices as it would be disastrous for major export earning sectors including textiles. He said that if the input cost for doing business in Pakistan would be higher than that of neighbouring countries, who would convince the foreign investors to put their money in any new venture in Pakistan. He said that acute power shortage had already pushed the industrial sector to the wall and a large number of industrial workers had lost their jobs, the government should avoid any anti-industry step. He out-rightly rejected the increase in gas tariff and said that it would be better if the gas companies control line losses, introduce efficiency in their system and control gas theft. He urged the Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani to look into the matter and stop OGRA from making any further increase in gas tariff. Farmers Associates Pakistan (FAP) Vice Chairman Hussain Jahania Gardezi has strongly condemned the governments decision to increase the price of gas by 100 percent for fertilizer industry in addition to already levied 16 percent sales tax on agriculture machinery, fertilizer, pesticides, seeds and other agriculture inputs besides other hidden taxes. He lamented the carelessness of the government specially when the prices of urea as of today in India were 397 Indian Rupees per bag (754 Rupees converted into Pak Rupees) and DAP is 609 Indian Rupees per bag(1157 Rupees per bag if converted to Pak Rupee). How can Pakistani farmers compete in production when such great anomaly and injustice is meted to the farmers of Pakistan. It seems Pakistans policy makers have decided to concentrate more on import of agriculture products from India and other countries to cater to certain vested interests at the cost of the farmers of Pakistan. He said it seems the policy makers are now determined to put maximum burden on the farmers to meet their deficit irrespective of the fate and plight of Pakistans economy as they have miserably failed to generate it from the existing sectors.