Industrialists in the country’s commercial hub of Karachi have threatened to go on an indefinite strike if the government does not annul a recent increase in prices of gas and electricity.
Addressing a press conference, Faisal Moiz Khan – President of North Karachi Association of Trade and Industry (NKATI) – said that the hike in gas and electricity prices posed a “threat to the survival” of their businesses and could lead to the collapse of the industrial sector.
“The export industry had been facing numerous difficulties due to increase in electricity and gas charges,” the NKATI president said, adding: “Moreover, 50pc of small industries also shut down, which led to unemployment”.
Faisal Moiz added that the government should take constructive measures to withdraw its decisions, which hampered the country’s industrial process.
Meanwhile, Javed Bilwani – patron-in-chief Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers & Exporters Association – said the industries have never received any subsidy from the government for gas tariffs and were rather burdened with cross-subsidies.
The high gas tariff has made the export-oriented industries unviable and uncompetitive in international markets when the country direly needs foreign exchange to control the swelling trade and current account deficits.
The government’s decision would shatter the exports, leading to huge closure of industries, layoffs creating huge retrenchment of labour which might cause increase in street crimes and can also lead to bankruptcies of manufacturing units, he feared.
He threatened to go for an indefinite strike if the government did not annul the recent increase in prices of gas and electricity
On October 31, Pakistan announced a sharp increase in the price of natural gas for most households and industries ahead of Pakistan’s first review of a $3 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout.
While announcing the hike in gas tariffs, Energy Minister Muhammad Ali said the tariff increase would generate nearly 400 billion rupees ($1.42 billion), adding that the state-run gas sector would from now on face no losses.