ISLAMABAD - The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) has slammed further hike in the prices of petroleum products, saying it would unleash a new wave of inflation in the country.

The ICCI has called upon the government to withdraw its decision. “It would put more burden on the common man and badly affect the growth of trade and industrial activities,” said Sheikh Amir Waheed, president of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry in a statement.

He further said that govt was already charging 31 percent GST on high speed diesel and Rs10 on per liter of petrol as petroleum development surcharge due to which the consumers were paying many times high prices for POL products. He said though oil prices in the international market have gone up, but stressed that the government should reduce high taxes and charges on POL products instead of increasing their prices. It was a wise approach save the business community and the general public from further problems.

He said the recent hike in POL prices would further enhance the cost of doing business as manufacturing, movement of raw materials and trading goods will become costly. He said the industrial sector will be the immediate victim of the hike in POL prices as it was one of the major raw materials for industries. He said the move would also reduce the competitiveness of Pakistani goods in the international market and foil the government`s efforts for revival of exports.

Sheikh Amir Waheed said that the economy of Pakistan was already facing many challenges due to rising trade and current account deficits, falling exports and heavy cost of debt servicing. In this scenario, increasing prices of POL products twice after a short gap would create more difficulties for the economy.

Muhammad Naveed, ICCI senior vice president, and Nisar Mirza, vice president, stressed that government should immediately withdraw the recent hike in POL prices and avoid taking such measures, especially at a time when the trade and industry was struggling for survival.

They said making repeated increases in POL prices would put unnecessary burden on the already hard pressed general public and hit the growth of trade and industrial activities. They emphasized that instead of hiking POL prices , government should focus on reducing taxes and duties on POL products and control non-developmental expenditures.