The industrialist and traders of Pakistan have asked the government to formulate long-term and consistent policies for swift revival of industry and considerable improvement in exports.

Talking to a trade delegation on Saturday, Pakistan Industrial and Traders Association Front (PIAF) Chairman Mian Nauman Kabir said that Pakistan’s exports have remained stagnant for a long time and unless attention was paid to factors hampering industrial and export growth, the country might not achieve the desired results.

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Under its pledge to revamp the power sector, the government hiked electricity prices but failed to implement reforms to turn the sector efficient.

He was of the view that the circular debt issue could have been resolved if the government had eliminated production, transmission and distribution losses, checked electricity theft and recovered the outstanding electricity dues.

“Constant hikes in energy rates on the behest of the International Monetary Fund will make Pakistani products uncompetitive in the international market,” he said.

He highlighted that regular attempts to increase oil prices along with hikes in power and gas tariffs would ultimately harm the government’s overall aim of reducing cost of production in the country.

The present and previous governments were forced to raise energy tariffs due to excessive capacity payment to independent power producers (IPPs) which led to drastic growth in the public debt and the cost was ultimately passed on to the end consumers.

He said that the power crisis had caused a dent worth $82 billion in GDP between 2007 and 2020.

He called for swift power sector reforms keeping in view overbilling, technical losses, transmission issues, proposal on decentralisation of the sector, promotion of off grid solutions, incentives for renewable energy solutions and capacity payments to the independent power producers.

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He voiced fear that if the government failed to take immediate measures, the power sector was likely to choke up due to heavy outstanding dues.

During the current fiscal year, the government set economic growth target at 2% which will be better in the present economic situation but not good enough to create jobs for the ballooning population.

PIAF Vice Chairman Javed Siddiqi observed that it was imperative to make power and gas tariffs for domestic and export sectors competitive compared to regional and neighbouring countries.