SIALKOT-Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Dr Sarfraz Bashir expressed grave concern over the promulgation of the Theft Control & Recovery Ordinance 2014.

Talking to newsmen, the SCCI president said that the ordinance had triggered unrest among the industrialists and general public. He agreed to the fact that gas theft or its illegal use is a crime and should be condemned at every forum. But, he said, the powers given to the staff under the ordinance could result in its misuse. He added that the issues like non-bailable warrants and others pose a risk that it might be misused. He added that such ordinances are made for betterment of the people but in fact, the same were misused by the departmental staff through registration of fake cases.

He said that giving the power to cut the gas connection without issuance of notice or removal of meters in the absence of consumers is extremely disturbing matter. He said that before disconnecting a meter, the consumers should be informed and the meters should be removed in the presence of consumers in order to make the process more transparent.

He said that Sialkot industry was already faced by great problems like burden of taxes, utility bills, non-availability of power and rising prices of petroleum products. He emphasised that it’s the government’s responsibility to protect the rights of industrialists and provide them with relief. He recommended that severe punishment should also be given to SNGPL staff if they register wrong complaints.

Talking about the export sector of Pakistan, Bashir said that if the industrialists were not provided with suitable environment, the national exports would decline thereby causing a huge loss to the nation in term of foreign exchange reserves.

Meanwhile, the Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that decrease in the value of US Dollar against Pakistani rupee is causing financial loss of billions of rupees to the Sialkot exporters, who had fixed their business deals with their foreign customers in the American currency before its devaluation.

SCCI Senior Vice President Muhammad Anwar said, “Now, the foreign customers make payments in the US Dollar to their business partners in Sialkot-Pakistan, where the banks give the rate of Rs96 against one US dollar instead of then Rs108. The situation is causing financial losses to the exporters.”

He said that the strengthening of Pak rupee against US Dollar was a very good and healthy sign, but at the same time it was causing losses to the exporters. He asked the government to make some effective and positive measure to heal the wounds of Sialkot exporters.

He added that there was no decrease in the prices of the imported goods (especially the raw materials) despite the decline in the US Dollar’s value. He urged the federal government to ensure early reduction in the prices of the imported goods to facilitate the business community, besides, reducing the POL prices, utility bills and daily-use commodities.