ISLAMABAD/RAWALPINDI - Condemning the hike in petroleum products, the business community have said that the decision of increasing POL prices would further raise the prices of the essential commodities and dampen the business activities in the country. Presidents of Islamabad, Gujranawala and Rawalpindi Chambers of Commerce and Industry said this in meetings held separately in Islamabad and Rawalpindi on Wednesday. They strongly criticised the governments decision of increasing the POL prices. They said that around 70 per cent of electricity in the country was generated through thermal sources and the hike would significantly push up power price. They also said that this state of affairs was not good for the countrys economy and would further increase in the prices of all items, making life of a common man, thus, more miserable. They lamented that whenever POL prices went up in international market, the government never lost time in increasing the prices in domestic market, but whenever prices came down, the required relief was not passed on to the masses. They called upon the government to get rid of the clutches of donor agencies and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and make independent decisions in the larger national interest otherwise people would lose trust in democracy. Mian Shaukat, President ICCI, said that raising the POL prices, particularly at a time when trade and industry was passing through a difficult phase, was an unwise decision. He said that as a result of the hike, consumers would have to face extremely high prices of the commodities and would further render the Pakistani products uncompetitive in the local as well as international market. Syed Asad Mashadi, President of Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that at present purchasing power of the people was at the lowest ebb and increase in POL prices would make an adverse impact on the masses and ultimately force the businessmen to shut down their businesses. In the international market there is a trend of reduction in prices of petroleum products but in Pakistan the government had taken a wrong decision and increased the prices of petroleum to add to the miseries of the masses, he added. Muhammad Akram Badshah, President of Gujranwala Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that due to energy crisis, the industry was already in crisis and the recent increase in POL prices would drive the last nail into the coffin of the industry. It is strange logic of Dr Asim, Advisor to Prime Minister on Natural Resources and Petroleum, that the revenue generated by this increase would be used in war against terrorism he said. Muhammad Akram Badshah asked the government to review its decision.