The President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, has issued a passionate plea for immediate intervention from the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) apex committee to prevent the impending surge in gas tariffs. This alarming proposal, set to be ratified by the federal cabinet, could spell disaster for millions of consumers.

In a statement, Sheikh implored the government to address the gas sector’s financial woes by tackling wastage issues such as line losses, eradicating cross subsidies, and conducting scientific surveys to identify unaccounted-for gas (UFG). He also called for the recovery of debts from defaulters and an end to gas pilferage through efficient network management.

Furthermore, Sheikh extended an invitation to the federal caretaker minister for energy, power, and petroleum, urging a collaborative effort to explore alternative solutions aligning with International Monetary Fund (IMF) conditions and bolstering state-owned gas company revenues.

The potential tariff increase, set to take effect from November 1, threatens the livelihoods of 4.3 million consumers and presents ominous challenges for commercial and industrial sectors. Sheikh emphasised the importance of economic stability, particularly with Pakistan already grappling with historical inflationary pressures.

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) has granted preliminary approval, awaiting cabinet ratification, which raises concerns that the tariff hike is inevitable. Export-oriented industries face an 86% increase to Rs2,050 per mmBtu, while general industries confront a staggering 117% rise to Rs2,600 per mmBtu. These excessive increases could prove catastrophic for struggling businesses.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2023.

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