Islamabad (Khyber Mail): In a joint press release, Ahsan Zafar Bakhtawari, President of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), and Iftikhar Ahmed Sheikh, President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), expressed grave concerns over the recent federal cabinet approval for a 67% increase in gas tariffs.

During a meeting at ICCI, both leaders emphasized the potential negative impact on the economy, including increased production costs, reduced industrial activities, and a detrimental effect on exports. They called on the government to reconsider this decision and implement measures ensuring competitive energy tariffs, essential for boosting industrialization and exports.

President Bakhtawari highlighted the current economic challenges, stating that the manufacturing sector is struggling to recover, textile sector exports have declined by 3%, and foreign exchange reserves are insufficient. He stressed the urgency of boosting industrialization and exports but raised concerns about the adverse effects of repeated hikes in electricity and gas tariffs on the cost of doing business.

President Sheikh, representing KCCI, noted the industry’s demand for reduced gas tariffs to enhance industrial activities. Instead, the government’s decision to further increase gas tariffs poses additional challenges, potentially slowing down the country’s economic growth. He urged the new government to collaborate with the private sector in setting utility tariffs for the next decade to stimulate business growth and economic revival.

Zafar Bakhtawari, former President ICCI and Secretary General UBG, emphasized the need for privatizing loss-making utility companies to alleviate the burden on the national exchequer and enhance their performance.

Both Chambers jointly called for political stability, identifying it as a key requirement for achieving economic stability. They urged the new government to prioritize ease of doing business, envisioning Pakistan as a hub for business and investment activities to emerge as a robust economy. The chambers pledged to work closely in addressing key business community issues and fostering a conducive business environment.

The event saw the presence of Muhamad Ejaz Abbasi, former President ICCI, Maqsood Tabish, Khalid Chaudhry, and other prominent figures.

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