WITHDRAWAL OF SUBSIDIES AND HIKE IN ELECTRICITY TARIFFS

INTERVIEW: ANJUM NISAR, PRESIDENT KCCI

AMANULLAH BASHAR
June 15 - 21, 2009

Pakistan is currently passing through the most crucial phase of its history where deteriorating law and order situation is adding to the economic miseries of the country.

The persistent law and order condition has shattered the confidence of the domestic investors, what to speak of foreign investors. The investment climate would remain bleak unless the confidence of the investors restored with stability of the environment.

Anjum Nisar said: "It is surprising that under the present abnormal situation faced by Pakistan, the International donor agencies including IMF and the World Bank are pressing the government for abolishing the subsidies from energy sector especially the gas and power sectors besides imposing heavy taxation to achieve the revenue targets.

In fact it is the time for the government of the day to talk to IMF and the world bank as well WTO for taking in to account the abnormal law and order situation persisting in Pakistan mainly due to war on terror.

Increasing power and gas tariff in the normal situation looks all right but in the current abnormal situation the government should convince the International Donor Agencies for considering flexibility in their parameters so that the stakeholders could play their due role and contribute in the revenue targets. In fact, the situation calls for a supporting hand to make economy viable in Pakistan. He cited the example of India and China and other countries which are not responding to the parameters required for withdrawal of subsidies especially on power and POL products although these countries are not confronted with the acute law and order situation like Pakistan. He expressed the hope that the government would also plead the cause of the trade and industry and take up the matter with the donor agencies.

If the subsidies on various sectors are removed and prices of electricity, gas and petroleum products are not reduced this would have an adverse impact on the industries, which might result in lay offs at a massive scale. The new wave of unemployment would add to the poverty level but also supplement rising trend in street crime, Anjum warned.

"The levy of taxes, withdrawal of exemptions and subsidy look good in normal conditions but the government as well as IMF can observe the devastating effects of the violence and law and order situation and should keep the situation in view before taking strict measures for revenue generation," he reiterated. In fact, the revenue is generated when the wheel of the industry runs normally. He expressed the hope that the people at the helm of affairs should give a due consideration to the implications and repercussions of the disturbed law and order conditions on account of war against terror which is victimizing the economy of the country.

Anjum Nisar said that the business community time and again has demanded of the government for ensuring stable law and order situation and to lend a helping hand to the business community. As far as Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry is concerned it has provided 25 motor bikes and six cars to the law enforcing agencies and other chambers and trade bodies are also willing to contribute for stability of law and order situation.

While expressing his deep concerns over unending incidents of bomb blasts, suicide bombing and other acts of violence in different parts of the country, KCCI President said that these incidents of destruction are posing a serious threat to the socio economic life in the country and needed result oriented steps to restore the confidence of the common man as well as trade and industry.

ROUNDTABLE CONFERENCE OF BUSINESS COMMUNITY

In this regard, KCCI has invited a roundtable conference participated by different trade bodies and business leaders at KCCI to ponder over the question of improvement in law and order situation persisting in the country.

The political forces can also play a vital role in getting the country rid of the menace of the law and order situation by shunning their political differences and join hands to face this national issue collectively for the cause of the country, for the people and for the democracy, he remarked.