ISLAMABAD (NNI) - Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) has shown concern over more than 2 percent hike in gas tariff for the power sector , which now stands at Rs.613 per million British thermal units (mmBtu).

In a press release issued here on Saturday, it called upon the government to reconsider this decision, as it would further push up the cost of doing business in the country, thus casting an adverse impact on exports.

ICCI Acting President Sheikh Pervez Ahmad lauded the government’s move to reduce the gas tariff for fertiliser plants by Rs.76.59 mmBtu, and added, “It would provide relief to the farmers and help increase agricultural produce.” However, he said relief to the fertiliser sector at the cost of power sector was not a wise move, as increased gas tariff for the power sector would multiply problems for business and industry and put an additional burden on the common man in the form of rising inflation.

He said per unit cost of electricity in Pakistan was 14 cents, while it was 9 cents in India, 8.5 cents in China and 7.3 cents in Bangladesh, which showed that power tariffs were already highest in Pakistan due to which the country’s exports were struggling. He said Pakistan’s total exports during first half of 2015-16 (July-December) witnessed a decline of 14.4 percent, and now stood at $10.322 billion against $12.058 billion in the same period last year

“Any further hike in tariff for gas-based power plants would further dent the exports,” he warned. Sheikh said that electricity was a key input for industry and any increase in its cost would translate into high production cost, high prices for consumers, slump in business activities & exports, low revenue generation and an overall negative impact on the economy.

He stressed the government should focus on power generation through cheap sources like water, coal, including renewable, which were plenty in the country.

He said bringing tariffs down would bring multiple benefits for the economy, and would give boost to business activities, promote industrialisation, create new jobs, enhance exports, generate more tax revenue and strengthen the overall economy.