LAHORE - The All Pakistan Business Forum (APBF) president Ibrahim Qureshi has flayed the government for increasing prices of petroleum products by over Rs19 per litre during last seven months, terming it bad news for the country's economy.

He rejected the seventh consecutive hike in petrol prices, which have registered a jump of over 25 percent from Rs70 to around Rs.89 per litre during last seven months of Sept 2017 to March 2018, leading to increasing cost of production manifold.

He said that in August 2017, the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority had recommended the government to reduce the prices of petrol and high speed diesel by Rs 3.67 and Rs 5.07 per litre respectively for the month of August but the govt maintained the rates at previous level, instead of passing on benefit to the public.

In the past, the government did not pass on the full benefit of declining oil prices to the public by imposing heavy taxes. It is the time to relax the duties and absorb the burden of soaring petroleum prices in international market by keeping the prices stable.

The government is charging the tax more than the notified GST rate on HSD which is 25.5 percent, while it is 7.5 percent on kerosene and light diesel oil and 17 percent on petrol.

In addition to GST, govt has been charging high rates of Petroleum Development Levy from the consumers. It is charging Rs8 per litre PDL on HSD, Rs10/litre on petrol and Rs6 and Rs3/litre on kerosene and LDO, respectively.

At a time when country's trade deficit was further stretched by over 35 percent owing to rise in imports and slow exports growth amidst high cost of doing business, the continuous hike petroleum as well as power tariff is very unfortunate.

He said that the government decision to increase petrol prices would significantly damage the trade and business activities across the country while the transport fares have already been escalated due to raise in diesel prices. Ibrahim Qureshi said that business friendly policies must be adopted as other neighboring countries of the region are giving to trade and industry.