KARACHI: The industrialists of Karachi have declared shutdown of all industries on Monday, December 4, demanding that the approved gas rates of 1350 rupees per MMBTU (Million British Thermal Units) by OGRA be implemented immediately.

In a press conference held at the SITE Association of Industry, the industrial community vehemently protested the recent surge in gas prices. Furthermore, they announced a formal shutdown of industries as a means of expressing their discontent.

This was 3rd Press Conference called on this matter, which was attended by President SAI Muhammad Kamran Arbi, Chief Coordinator Saleem Parekh, Vice Chairman Businessmen Group Muhammad Jawed Bilwani, SVP FPCCI Suleman Chawla, SVP KCCI Altaf A. Ghaffar, President NKATI Faisal Moiz Khan, Ehteshamuddin from KATI, Zain Bashir from Landhi Association, Shaheen Sarwana, President, SITE Superhighway Association, Raza Hussain, President, FB Area Association, and presidents / representatives of value-added textile associations.

SVP Muhammad Hanif Tawakkal, VP Muhammad Farhan Ashrafi, Former Presidents Majyd Aziz, Younus Bashir, Riaz Uddin, Abdul Hadi, Abdul Rasheed and Members Sh. Zafar Ahmed, Abdul Kadir Bilwani, Muhammad Hussain Moosani, Saleem Nagaria, Anwer Aziz, Khalid Riaz, Muhammad Riaz Dhedhi, Tarique Rehman, Rizwan Lakhany, Azim Motiwala, and others were also present in the Press Conference.

Vice Chairman BMG Jawed Bilwani informed that all the trade bodies from Sindh and Baluchistan are extremely perturbed over the exorbitant hike in gas tariff which has made it impossible to keep the wheels of industries running.

We announce that our protests have become stronger as Lasbela Chamber from Baluchistan along with Nooriabad and Kotri Chambers have also joined our protest and assured to fully endorse all the strategies adopted by KCCI to deal with the situation.

Jawed Bilwani reiterated that the business community appeals to the government to bring down gas tariff to Rs.1350 per MMBtu which has been determined as 100 percent cost of gas by OGRA and include approx. 22pc profit of SSGC as well. The industries are ready to pay the @ 1350/- but not the subsidies being provided to other sectors.

He said that after holding two press conferences on the same subject at KCCI and NKATI, this was the 3rd one and the business community would continue to raise a stronger voice via media until their legitimate demand to bring down gas tariff is fulfilled by the government.

Jawed Bilwani added that we have already displayed protest banners at the offices of all trade associations and today, we announce closure of all industries on December 4 (Monday), if the legitimate demand providing gas @ 1350/- MMBtu is not met by the government.

Mr. Bilwani further said that the new gas tariff has burdened the industries with cross subsidy for undeserving and unfair support to fertilizer, domestic and power sector. “The industry demands fair gas tariff of Rs1350 per MMBtu but would never accept the unbearable and unabsorbable gas tariffs ranging from Rs2100 to Rs2600 per MMBtu which have been imposed to please the fertilizer, domestic and fertilizer sectors and terribly penalize the industrial sector of the country that forms the backbone of the economy”, he added.

He also pointed out that in Pakistan, gas to fertilizer sector is being provided at a much lower rate which was not making any sense as this was a sector which enjoys a profitability of around 20-22 pc and Rs40 billion and it also receives subsidy in gas tariff which was very strange and beyond anyone’s understanding.

President SITE Association of Industry Muhammad Kamran Arbi said that the new gas tariff is simply unbearable for industries of which, the government should take notice and bring it down to 1350/- MMBtu, set by OGRA. He demanded of the government to hold a meeting with the industry stakeholders to reach a consensus on the gas price since the existing tariff has outgrown the manufacturing costs.

He further stated that the business community still awaits the promised winter package for incremental consumption of electricity wherein it was agreed to provide electricity at reduced tariff of Rs20 per unit on incremental consumption during four months of winter season.

SVP KCCI Altaf A. Ghaffar said that the industries of Karachi were already suffering from high cost of manufacturing. Therefore, the government must immediately withdraw the hike in gas tariff and bring it down to an acceptable level i.e., Rs1350 per MMBtu. Keeping in view the gravity of the situation wherein all the industries of Karachi have been brought at the verge of complete collapse, he hoped that without losing further time, the government would take notice of business community’s plea and announce to bring down gas tariff to an acceptable level.

Chief Coordinator SAI Saleem Parekh said that exports should continue without hindrance. He added that “the SMEs are closing down whereas the big industries are following up”. He said that the industry players have left no stone unturned to seek help from the government in this regard, but all their efforts went futile. The country’s economy will see a hit from the halting exports, he warned and said that the industry is unable to fetch higher prices for their products on the world markets because of the costlier gas.