LAHORE - The business community has condemned the government for increasing prices of petroleum products by up to 10.15 per cent per litre, terming it bad news for the country's economy, as consecutive hike in fuel rates will lead to increasing cost of production ultimately.

Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan Chairman Samee Ullah Ch said though the prices of oil in global market are going up yet the authorities can keep the rates stable by reducing tax ratio which is highest in the region.

Samee Ullah Ch, who is also former president of GCCI, stated that the government hiked the prices of various POL products by 10.15 per cent and increased the rate of petrol by Rs2.98 per litre and high speed diesel by Rs5.92 per litre.

He said that against the standard rate of 17pc GST, currently the government is charging 31pc GST on high speed diesel (HSD) and 17 per cent on other petroleum products including petrol, kerosene oil and LDO. In addition to the GST, the government was charging highest rates of petroleum development levy (PDL) from the consumers. Currently, the consumers are paying Rs10 per litre petroleum development levy on petrol, Rs8 on HSD, Rs6 per litre on kerosene oil and Rs3 per litre on the LDO, he added.

APBF President Ibrahim Qureshi said that in the past, the government did not pass on the full benefit of declining oil prices to the public by imposing heavy taxes. “It is the time to relax the duties and absorb the burden of soaring petroleum prices in international market by keeping the prices stable,” he said. Ibrahim Qureshi, terming it a bad news for the country's economy which was already facing a number of challenges, said that the increase would put extra burden on the consumers. He said that industrial sector will be immediate victim of the hike in POL prices as it is one of the major raw materials of the industries. Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry President Malik Tahir Javaid said that consecutive increases in POL prices are adding to the distress of the business community. He said that huge hike in POL price will affect every sector whether it is trade or export-oriented industry. He said that logic has been given for POL price hike that oil prices in international market are climbing. Though oil prices in the international market have gone up as compared to recent past but why government is not bring down ratio of duties on petroleum products.

Pakistan Industrial & Traders Associations Front (PIAF) chairman Irfan Iqbal Sheikh also expressed his dismay over the increase in prices of petrol which are going to affect all the commodities. He urged the Prime Minister to withdraw the hike in prices of petroleum products as it would be a major blow for the crippling economy. Irfan Iqbal said that industries relied on petroleum products to complete export orders and a further hike in petroleum prices is bound to push the crisis-hit industrial sector to the wall. It is highly unlikely that Pakistani merchandise would be able win buyers in the international market as prices would go higher compared to other countries.

Progressive Group of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry said that the government while increasing oil prices had forgotten the poor as the hike may result in increasing prices of different products. The Group said that it would also hurt the manufacturing sector.  Progressive Group’s President Khalid Usman, Muhammad Azam Cheema, Chaudhry Arshad, Ehsan Ullah and others said that country’s economy is worsening day by day because of continuous increase in petroleum, gas and electricity prices.