The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) has called upon the government to withdraw the Rs.1.82 per unit power tariff hike approved by NEPRA few days ago as it would put additional burden of Rs.24 billion on the electricity consumers, further enhance the cost of doing business and bring more inflation to the common man leading to slowdown in business activities.
In a joint statement issued here on Friday, President ICCI Muhammad Ahmed Waheed, Senior Vice President Tahir Abbasi and Vice President Saif ur Rahman Khan said that manufacturing cost in Pakistan was already quite high on account of exorbitant energy price and in these circumstances, any further hike in power tariff would have harmful consequences on the growth of business and economic activities.
Muhammad Ahmed Waheed said that business sector was already facing great challenges due to depreciation of rupee, hike in SBP interest rate, surge in prices of electricity, gas and POL products. Therefore, in such tough business environment, increasing electricity price would not be beneficial for the economy.
He said that the decision would also affect exports by making them more uncompetitive in the international market and urged that government should withdraw this hike to save the private sector and economy from further troubles.
The 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 Pakistan has great potential to generate cheap electricity through hydro, solar and other renewable energy sources and urged that it was high time for the government to make transition from conventional and to renewable energy sources for generating cheap electricity. He said that government should reduce duties and taxes on renewable energy related equipment to make this source of energy easily accessible for people.
Muhammad Ahmed Waheed said that energy generated through fossil fuels was polluting the environment as well while government was spending billions of dollars on oil import. He said that renewable energy was environment-friendly and cost-effective, therefore, government should pay priority attention to this important source of energy.
He was of the view that transition from conventional to renewable energy would enable the country to avoid repeated hikes in power tariffs and provide cheap energy to businesses that would give boost to business activities and pave way for quick revival of the economy.