LAHORE - The business community has rejected the whopping hike of over 11 percent in petroleum prices, saying the industrial production and movement of raw materials would be costlier now.

Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan chairman Samee Ullah Ch said the move will reduce the competitiveness of Pakistani goods in the international market and put the government’s initiatives in reverse for boosting exports.

He said that POL price increase will also add to the complexities of the agriculture sector which is already in a bad state-of-affairs because of water scarcity and high input cost.

Samee Ullah Ch said that the increase in petroleum prices would increase the input cost of agriculture production as high speed diesel is being used in tractors, tube-wells, harvesters, thrashers and other agriculture machinery. He said that the cost of thermal generation by private sector will also go up. The REAP chairman said that government is producing huge amount of electricity through thermal means and after increase in petroleum prices the rates of electricity would touch new highs.

He urged the government to withdraw recent huge hike in POL prices to avert huge economic losses and to win the trust of trade, industry and masses otherwise anti-government sentiments would rise. PIAF chairman Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said that the PIAF had earlier asked the government to avoid increase in POL prices as current economical condition does not allow such measures. He said that industrial sector would be immediate victim of the hike in POL prices as it is one of the major raw materials of the industries.

He said it is true that oil prices in the international market are rising but it would be better if government cuts duties, taxes levied on petroleum products and reduces huge non-development expenditures. The Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry also rejected POL price hike and the logic for this initiative given by the Ministry of Finance.

“Why comparison just for POL prices , why not in all economic sectors? Exports of India, Bangladesh and Turkey have been crossed $ 268.6 billion, $ 34.14 billion and $ 150.2 billion respectively while Pakistan is running with just around $21 billion, said LCCI president Tahir Javed Malik. Industries in those countries are playing freely and enjoying the status of state-partner while Pakistani industrial sector is struggling for survival, he added.