OUR STAFF REPORTER LAHORE - The business community Saturday strongly criticized the massive raise in petroleum products, saying that it would hit trade and industry hard besides jacking up the graph of inflation further high Rejecting the unjust increase in the petroleum prices, the manufacturers demanded of the government to withdraw Rs4.15 and Rs1.51 per liter increase in petroleum and diesel prices respectively as the bulk increase is bound to shatter the all segments of society including industrialists and traders. Had a little attention been given towards the construction of mega water reservoirs including Kalabagh Dam, the situation today would have been quite satisfactory because of the availability of cheaper electricity, the traders observed. LCCI President Irfan Qaiser Sheikh, Senior Vice President Kashif Younas Mehar and Vice President Saeeda Nazar said that the recent increase of 5 per cent in the prices of petroleum products would have devastating impact on the industrial sector as cost of raw materials and transportation of goods would increase manifold. They said that the export sector would also get the heat of the recent hike in petroleum prices. The LCCI office-bearers said that the prices of petroleum products were raised on the pretext of appreciation in dollar prices but here again the dollar jump against the rupee is not more than Rs 1.50 in the last two months but the raise in the prices of petroleum products in above rupees 4 a litre which is totally against all norms and an attempt to befool the masses. The LCCI office-bearers said that the entire industrial sector was already facing multiple internal and external challenges and the recent increase would further aggravate the economic situation. Pakistanagriculture sector is engine of growth. The increase in petroleum prices would increase the input cost of agriculture production as high speed diesel is being used in tractors, tub-wells, harvesters, thrashers and other agriculture machinery. They said that the cost of thermal generation by private sector to go up. The LCCI office-bearers said that not only the transportation cost of goods would multiply but fares of public transport would also increase manifold. They said that Government is producing huge amount of electricity through thermal means and after increase in petroleum prices, prices of electricity would touch new highs. The LCCI office-bearers said that the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry had for the last many months been calling on the concerned government circles to take measures for the promotion of alternate fuels as trade deficit was fast widening due to heavy imports under the head of petroleum products. They were of the view that the timeline for the increase in the prices of petroleum products was also raising questions because at a time when the whole industry was suffering due to energy crisis and high cost of doing business, the raise in POL prices is bound to give a further blow to the industry. It seems that it is an attempt to create troubles for the government. PIAF Chairman Sohail Lashari, Senior Vice Chairman Nadar Kamal Osman, Vice Chairman Junaid Iqbal Sheikh and Chairman of Auto Parts Manufacturers & Exporters Association Tahir Javed Malik while strongly reacting on this anti-industry and anti-masses decision, said that government did not bother to pass on the benefit of decrease of oil prices in international market and earned billion rupees, which was a sheer injustice and now made a huge raise in the petroleum prices. They said that there is almost no production in the industrial estates due to massive load shedding while recent increase in petroleum and diesel prices would give a big blow, only to the industry but to the agriculture sector that is backbone of the economy. They said that the industrialists, traders and common men are already annoyed due to dozens hour load shedding while increase in petroleum prices would add fuel to the fire. They said that government should cut down its luxurous expenditures and curtail taxes and duties on petroleum. They said that PIAF had for the last many months been calling on the concerned government circles to take measures for the promotion of alternate fuels as trade deficit was fast widening due to heavy imports under the head of petroleum products. They said that the timeline for the increase in the prices of petroleum products was also raising questions. They said that at a time when the whole industry was suffering due to energy crisis and high cost of doing business, the raise in POL prices is bound to give a further blow to the industry. They demanded of the Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani to withdraw recent increase in petroleum prices immediately and also ensure representation of business community in the bodies like OGRA and NEPRA.