LAHORE – The business community is shocked by the federal government decision of another 16 per cent hike in power tariff, terming it a conspiracy to make the country a trading place as manufacturers would not be able to pay such a high prices of power and become uncompetitive in the international market. 

They said that Pakistan has become only non-oil producing country in the world where bulk of the electricity is being produced through oil-run power plants, keeping energy rates volatile to the extent that it is fast crushing the economic activities.

Severely criticising another 16 per cent hike in power tariff, traders said that it is a futile exercise and would not serve government unless and until it makes a plan to cover inefficiencies in the power sector.

They said that besides controlling line losses and electricity theft, the government would have to chalk out a plan to convert oil-based power generators to coal as in India more than sixty per cent of electricity in being produced through coal while only 6pc power is being generated through furnace oil.

The LCCI President Irfan Qaiser opined that power hike is bound to increase the incidence of electricity pilferage that already is 25 per cent of the 22 per cent line losses and eating up Rs 50-75 billion.

The LCCI President said that how the industry would remain competitive at such a high price of electricity which is one of the basic industrial raw materials. We already have the highest tariff in the region as in India, the electricity tariff for industry is 10.5 cents, in Bangladesh 10.75 cents and in Sri Lanka it is again 10.75 cent whereas in Pakistan tariff is already 15 cents meaning that 45 percent higher as compared to the region. With this massive and unprecedented increase, we will have double the tariff of electricity what the regional countries are offering to their trade and industries leaving Pakistan totally uncompetitive and unviable in the international market place.

“The country had already lost a number of international markets to China, Bangladesh and India due to high cost of doing business and the decision to increase power tariff would make the Pakistani goods more uncompetitive.”

He said that the business community was unable to understand that instead of taking measures to control line losses and enhance cheap power generation up to capacity, the policies are being evolved to add to the miseries of the business doing people.

Chairman PIAF Engr. Sohail Lashari strongly criticised unjustified increase in electricity tariff and urged the government to withdraw the raise in the larger interests of trade and industry that had already been facing multiple internal and external challenges.

He said that how Pakistani merchandise would be able win buyers in the international market when their prices would be higher than the same quality goods of other countries.

He said that according to the reports more than 40pc electricity was being stolen but instead controlling the theft and the line losses the authorities were busy in making further increase in electricity prices while it is a proven fact that the raise in the tariff always leads to increase in the incidence of power theft.

He said that the country would become a trading hub if appropriate measures to ensure proper supply of cheap electricity to the industry are not taken but nobody bothered to even listen to the voice of trade and industry.