Karachi, 1 December, 2023 (GNP): Industrialists in Karachi, Pakistan’s economic hub, declared a comprehensive production shutdown on Monday (Dec 4) to vehemently oppose the unprecedented surge in gas tariffs imposed by the caretaker government.
The move aims to prompt an immediate reversal of these tariff hikes that have sparked deep concerns within the industrial sector.
Staggering at an estimated loss of $47 million per day in exports from the port city alone, the business community foresees drastic economic repercussions due to the inflated gas rates.
This decision comes after extensive protests and the placement of banners at various trade association offices, demanding an urgent reduction in gas prices.
Speaking at a joint press conference at the Site Association of Industry (SAI) on Thursday, representatives from several industrial associations and the value-added textile sectors conveyed their firm stance against the exorbitant gas tariffs.
Jawed Bilwani, Vice-Chairman of the Businessmen Group, highlighted that the soaring gas rates, ranging between Rs2,100-2,600 per mmBtu, have rendered industrial operations unsustainable. Emphasizing the collective sentiment of the trade bodies in Sindh and Balochistan, he called for the immediate reinstatement of the previously approved rate of Rs1,350 per mmBtu by the Oil and Gas Regulatory Authority (Ogra).
Bilwani stressed that the industry is prepared to pay the Ogra-approved rate but adamantly opposes subsidies allotted to other sectors.
He vowed to persistently voice concerns until the government addresses this legitimate demand to reduce the gas tariff.
He further criticized the disproportionate subsidies being provided to sectors like fertilizers, domestic users, and power, characterizing the current situation as unfair and burdensome for industries.
Muhammad Kamran Arbi, President of SAI, urged the government to engage industry stakeholders for mutual deliberations on gas pricing, citing the present tariff’s deviation from reasonable manufacturing costs.
Altaf A. Ghaffar, Senior Vice-President of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), highlighted that Karachi’s industries already face escalated manufacturing costs, demanding an immediate rollback of the gas tariff hike.
Expressing concern over the impeding exports, SAI Chief Coordinator Saleem Parekh warned of dire consequences for the economy if the industrial shutdown continues due to costly gas, affecting global market competitiveness.
The industrialists remain committed to pursuing dialogue with the government for a viable resolution to the gas tariff crisis and anticipate a prompt response to avert further economic setbacks.