Lahore: -  The business community has criticised the government for increasing fuel prices and termed it a bad news for the country’s economy, adding that two weeks after the hike, the government on March 1 increased the prices once again.

“Hence, this is a fourth consecutive hike in petroleum prices, leading to increasing cost of production ultimately,” All Pakistan Business Forum President Ibrahim Qureshi said on Saturday.

He added although the prices of oil in global market were going up yet the authorities could keep the rates stable by reducing tax ratio which is highest in the region.

“In the past, the government did not pass on the full benefits of declining oil prices to the people by imposing heavy taxes,” he said, and emphasised, “It is time to relax the duties and absorb the burden of soaring petroleum prices in international market by keeping the prices stable.”

He regretted that in the past, the government used to cut POL rates after a period of one month when prices were declining in the global market, but at the time of rising oil prices the government was quickly responding and shifting the burden of oil price increase within 15 days.

“The price of petrol was increased from Rs71.29 to Rs73, whereas high speed diesel now costs Rs82 after an increase of Rs1.52 per litre,” he added.

Terming it a bad news for the country’s economy, which, he said, was already facing a number of challenges, Qureshi said that the increase would put extra burden on the consumers.

He said the rates of kerosene oil and light diesel oil were also increased from Rs43.25 to Rs44, and light diesel oil from Rs43.34 to Rs44 respectively.

LCCI former vice president Kashif Anwar said that businessmen had always been calling on the government 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.

He was of the view that rise in POL prices was bound to deal a further blow to the industry.

However, he appreciated Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for announcing Rs180 billion package for the revival of export-oriented industries, which, he asserted, should be implemented without any further delay along with stability in fuel prices as well as all energy inputs.

Anwar said that the business community was seriously concerned about decline in exports and an increase in the trade deficit mainly due to increasing cost of doing business which had impacted export sector viability.