Gas cess feared to devastate industry, agriculture

KARACHI: Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Thursday termed Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) a ruthless attack on masses, industry, and agriculture.

It is an economically devastating move which will trigger inflation, uncertainty while benefits would be reaped by an influential industrial group, said Dr Murtaza Mughal, President PEW, in a statement issued from Islamabad.

The masses, farmers, textile and fertiliser sectors would be hit by the move while it would result in increased electricity prices, said Dr. Mughal. No new gas project has been included in the PSDP, therefore, a part of the money collected under this new head could benefit influential board members of the Sui companies, he feared. He said that gas theft has reached new proportions which is impossible without support of gas companies, therefore, masses should not be punished for it.

Dr. Mughal said that gas line losses are less than one percent in many countries, including Bangladesh, but in Pakistan, losses are over 14 percent which is amazing. Government should contain mismanagement to avoid burdening masses which will promote tax evasion, he said, adding that authorities have downward revised growth rate from 5.1 to 4.2 percent despite steep fall in oil prices which indicates its failure.

The GDP growth for the next year has been proposed at 5.5 percent which would be revised downward after few months, he observed. He said that FBR has been facing a shortfall of 205 billion rupees in the ongoing fiscal but its target for the next year has been jacked up from 2.6 trillion rupees to 3.1 trillion which amounts to punishing honest taxpayers.

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