KARACHI: I am also of the view that the increase in gas tariff should not be applicable from January 01, 2023 and I have convened message of business community to relevant authorities.
A statement issued by Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) on Tuesday quoting the saying by State Minister and Chairman of Reforms & Resource Mobilization Commission (RRMC) Ashfaq Tola.
The statement said that Tola fully supported KCCI’s viewpoint over the unconstitutional move to retrospectively increase gas tariff.
Ashfaq Tola said that Pakistan had been into serious economic crises in 1998, 2008 and 2013 but came out successfully due to strong unity exhibited by everyone along with political stability which was the only way forward to pull the country out of current economic crises.
“The current crises being faced by the country were unique as these were a double-edged sword surfacing due to our own internal weaknesses”, Chairman RRMC added while speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI).
Chairman Businessmen Group Zubair Motiwala, Vice Chairmen BMG Anjum Nisar and Jawed Bilwani, President KCCI Mohammed Tariq Yousuf, Senior Vice President Touseef Ahmed, Vice President Haris Agar, Former Presidents and KCCI Managing Committee Members also attended the meeting.
“Bits and pieces don’t win the game and political stability is the name of the game so we all have to act together to deal with the situation”, said Ashfaq Tola, adding that the economic stability is always tied up with political stability.
He was of the view that by and large, the situation was not so cozy with the IMF which was the basic reason why power subsidy given to export industries and other subsidies have been withdrawn in addition to the announcement of mini budget and other harsh measures. “The economy flourishes only in those countries where tough decisions are taken as easy decisions never pave way for economic prosperity” he said, adding that rupee devaluation and man-made crises caused due to Russia-Ukraine war have also contributed to a very large extent to further worsen the situation beyond anyone’s thinking.
Referring to concerns expressed over delays in release of Sales Tax refunds, he said that it was a genuine issue which, he would personally discuss with Finance Minister Ishaq Dar and would keep on striving until it was resolved. He said that Ishaq Dar was a public figure but as he has remained extensively engaged with the IMF, he was unable to meet representatives of business community. “Finance Minister would certainly hold interactions with KCCI as soon as he is done with his current engagements.”
Commenting on raw material imports issue, he said that the issues being faced by the importers of raw material would ‘very soon’ lead towards betterment. “I am also of the view that the increase in gas tariff should not be applicable from 1st January 2023 and I have convened your message to relevant authorities”, he added while fully supporting KCCI’s viewpoint over the unconstitutional move to retrospectively increase gas tariff.
Speaking on the occasion, Chairman Businessmen Group Zubair Motiwala pointed out that although the government requires foreign exchange which can only be achieved by improving the exports and promoting import substitution but unfortunately this was not happening at all as the government, instead of facilitating, has stopped release of refunds, blocked raw material imports, withdrawn subsidy to five export oriented sectors that has raised electricity tariff by 70 percent, augmented interest rates to 20 percent, escalated gas tariff retrospectively by 35 percent which was purely against the Constitution of Pakistan. “In this scenario, how is it possible to enhance the exports and set up import-substitution industries”, he asked, adding that the policies being pursued would not improve but surely reduce the exports.
To minimize the impact of inflation being suffered by the public, he requested the government to allow imports of raw materials, plastics, pharmaceutical products, food and its allied items etc. without any hindrances. “Secondly, the government must also immediately start releasing Sales Tax refunds which, if further delayed, would prove disastrous for Pakistan”, he stressed, adding that connection between the Ministry of Finance and the business community has almost finished as they were not being updated about the state of affairs and were not being made part of the dialogues which have led to triggering a lot of rumors amongst the members of business and industrial community. “Dialogues between the Finance Division and the business community must continue in all types of circumstances.”
President KCCI Mohammed Tariq Yousuf, while welcoming Ashfaq Tola, stressed the need to mobilize resources in a productive direction and also bring maximum people into the tax net without further overburdening the existing taxpayers. “Frequent changes in taxes and tariffs slow down the business and industrial activities, hence, long term policies for a period at least two years have to be implemented to put businesses in a better position wherein they were able to evaluate the cost of doing business and the export cost.