LAHORE - The transporters, businessmen, growers, consumers and general public have strongly rejected the sharp increase in the fuel prices announced by the so-called people friendly PPP-led government and said that it would push more people below the poverty line besides multiplying the miseries of the already inflation-stricken public. Meanwhile, transporters have threatened to go on a wheel-jam strike if the government fails to withdraw the increase in the petroleum prices immediately. Reacting to the decision, the dealers at the wholesale market say the prices of essential commodities will surge by 20 per cent in the days to come, as the increase in fuel prices is certain to raise the transportation cost significantly. You will see the difference in the days to come. The prices of all the commodities will surge by 20 per cent at least, Mian Muhammad Akram, President Lahore Kiryana (Grocers) Merchants Association, said, when contacted. The steep increase in the prices of petroleum products would lead to high inflation in the country, as it would push the prices of commodities, transport fares, agriculture input and cost of running the businesses upward as well. In this regard, the economists said the 'move would push more people below the poverty line though it would help generate considerable revenue for the government. The sudden and steep increase in the oil prices on the very first day of the new fiscal year, would also heave the agriculture input cost as the farmers, facing severe water shortage in Punjab, have been left with no other option but to purchase diesel on high rates as the seeding season is at its peak across the Punjab and Sindh. Similarly, the prices of vegetables, fruits and other essential commodities and transport fares also shoot up in the City, a day after the government announced the new prices of petroleum products. According to a survey conducted by The Nation, the prices of vegetables, fruits, chicken and other commodities registered Rs 5 to Rs 15 increase on Wednesday. Dealers in the fruits and vegetable market said that the potato price jumped from Rs 30 to Rs 40 per kg as the fuel prices increased the transportation cost. Similarly, the rates of different varieties of mango swelled up to Rs 60 to Rs 90 from Rs 50 to Rs 60 per kg, while price of chicken meat jumped from Rs 135 to Rs 150 per kg. And according to the traders, the price of 100-kg sugar bag increased by Rs 30 in the local market owing to the increase in transportation cost. The businessmen say the sharp increase in the fuel prices would increase the prices of various kitchen items and commodities, from toothpaste to flour, as it would raise the cost of running the businesses. Same is view of the agriculturists who say that the farm input cost would also shoot up as more than 850,000 tube wells, are operated by diesel. The increase in fuel prices would multiply the cost of agriculture input as more than 725,000 tractors are being run on diesel in the country. Instead of providing any relief to the farmers, the government is putting extra burden on them, said Ibrahim Mughal, Chairman Agri-Forum Pakistan. Former advisor on finance Dr Salman Shah said the unreasonable increase in the fuel price would considerably increase the overall inflation. I think the government has raised the fuel prices in lieu of the electricity tariff to generate revenue, Dr Shah said, adding that it would multiply the miseries of the common people. Rejecting the increase in fuel prices, the transporters association has announced to go on wheel-jam strike if the government would not withdraw its decision within five days and said that they were also considering to increase transport fares by 50 per cent. It is worth mentioning that the conductors at local transport routes have started overcharging on Wednesday despite the fact that the government did not notify any increase in the fares as yet. The scuffles between the conductors and the passengers were also witnessed in several parts of the City on the issue of overcharging. The people have demanded the government to withdraw the decision regarding, as it would put extra-burden on them in ongoing alarming inflation. The government should think something about the people of Pakistan instead of blindly following the dictation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Sohail Ahmed, a resident of Iqbal Town said.