ISLAMABAD   -   The business community has expressed concerns over the proposed hike in power tariff as it would further increase the cost of doing business in Pakistan, which is already very high.

The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) on Saturday said that cost of doing in Pakistan is very high due to high price of electricity. Further hike in power tariff would have harmful consequences on the growth of business and economic activities in the country.

Ahmed Hassan Moughal, President ICCI, said that NEPRA has allowed a 54 paisas per unit average increase in power tariff to all power distribution companies in order to generate Rs.54 billion additional revenues and termed it an unfavorable decision as it would further enhance the cost of doing business, increase inflation and affect the growth of business and industrial activities.

Moughal said that businesses were already facing great problems due to multiple factors and in these conditions, allowing another average increase of paisas 54 per unit in power tariff would entail negative impact on business sector as it would further push up production cost, increase inflation for people and make our exports more uncompetitive in the international market. He urged that government should withdraw this move of NEPRA to save the businesses and economy from further troubles.

ICCI President said that Pakistan’s heavy reliance on fossil fuels for energy generation was the main cause of high cost of doing business. He said that hydroelectricity was the cheapest source of energy and urged that government should take all possible measures to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and exploit untapped hydro energy source for power generation. He said it was high time that government should make transition from conventional and to renewable energy sources for generating cheap electricity.

Rafat Farid, ICCI Senior Vice President, and Iftikhar Anwar Sethi, Vice President, said that government should reduce duties and taxes on renewable energy related equipment to make this source of energy easily accessible for people. They said that energy generated through fossil fuels was not only very costly, it was polluting the environment while government was also spending billions of dollars on import of oil. They said that renewable energy was environment-friendly and cost-effective, therefore, they emphasized that government should pay more attention to this important source of energy. They were of the view that transition from conventional to renewable energy sources would enable the country to avoid repeated hikes in power tariffs and provide cheap energy to businesses that would help in better growth of business activities.