ISLAMABAD  -  Former Leader of Opposition in Senate Senator Sherry Rehman Friday expressed her concern over the government’s decision to approve a proposal to increase gas tariff by 46 per cent, saying the government’s decision will have a harsh impact not only on some of Pakistan’s key export industries but particularly on the poor who will bear most of the brunt.

In a statement, Sherry Rehman termed it a stark departure from the PTI’s campaign slogan of reducing burden on the masses. She said: “Revision of gas prices, especially for an inflation-stricken nation, has to be done in a systematic way after all available options have been exhausted”. She said mechanisms on how gas prices are set in the future should also be determined. She said the government needs to issue an economic policy statement, outlining its goals in clear terms. ‘Does the government have a post-tariff hike action plan? How will it tackle the fall out of this decision? A decision of the scale needs thorough consultation and deliberation,” said the Senator. 

Rehman added: “This move will force producers to pass on the cost to the consumers. On top of that, production cost will increase, making our exports more uncompetitive than it already is.

As a reminder, Pakistan’s current trade deficit is already at a staggering $37.7 billion, an all-time high, and Pakistan’s total reserves are down by 18.21 per cent as compared to last year. “We need to strengthen our exports which are already on a dangerous downward trajectory,” she said.

She commented jacking up the price of gas to this extent is definitely not helping to achieve the goal. “Instead of a price hike, the government should focus on corrective measures to reduce or stop gas theft which is costing the national exchequer Rs 50 billion annually.

The government should also seriously probe the multi-million dollar energy corruption scandals.

“There is also a need to inspect and review how gas companies are run. Massive corruption, bureaucratic red tape and mismanagement have all contributed to the inefficiency that has led us to this dire situation. Simply raising the tariff is not enough. The public should not be made to pay for the incompetence of big gas companies,” she added.