LAHORE: The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) while expressing concern over recent price hike in petroleum products, has urged the government to make more investment in oil exploration projects as new discoveries would be doing a great help in tackling the oil price issue.
LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar said that the government would not be able to put the economy back on rails in the presence of mounting oil prices that has not only jacked up the cost of doing business but also adding to the miseries of common man.
He said the minister of petroleum and natural resources has stated recently that Pakistan has the largest reservoirs of shale gas in sub continent and 9th largest in the world. “We should come up with a commercially viable policy to lure exploration companies in this regard.” At the same time, he added, a large quantity of explored gas has been capped by the producers as the rate at which government buys gas from the exploration companies is not feasible. He said when we are ready to import liquefied natural gas or natural gas at very high rate why can’t we raise some price for the available gas in our own oil fields.
The LCCI president said that said that the fast rising up graph of inflation and law and order situation in parts of the country had already put the industrial sector in deep troubles therefore the government would have to come up with out-of-the-box solution to expedite economic activities in the country.
Iftikhar feared that the hefty hike in oil prices would make Pakistani merchandise uncompetitive at global marketplace with ultimate effect on government revenues and steep decline in foreign exchange proceeds.
He said that high input cost along with current devaluation of rupee have already hurt badly economic growth in the country. The LCCI president said that there was no denying the fact that oil prices were on the rise in the international market but instead of passing on this surge to masses, the government should cut the number of taxes on petroleum products as the fuel is the engine of growth. If the fuel would be heavily taxed the entire economy would suffer.
Iftikhar said that only because of high cost of doing business in Pakistan, a large number of industrial units had already shifted their operations to other countries and the recent decision would force more industrialists to go to other countries. Pakistan’s agriculture sector is engine of growth. The increase in petroleum prices would increase the input cost of agriculture production as high-speed diesel is being used in tractors, tube-wells, harvesters, thrashers and other agriculture machinery. He said that the cost of thermal generation by private sector to go up. The LCCI president said that not only the transportation cost of goods would multiply in coming days but fares of public transport would also increase manifold.
He said that the government is producing huge amount of electricity through thermal means and after increase in petroleum prices, prices of electricity would touch new highs.
The LCCI had for the last many months been calling on the concerned government circles to take measures for the promotion of alternate fuels as trade deficit was fast widening due to heavy imports under the head of petroleum products. Courtesy Daily Times