Unprecedented petroleum prices unbearable, warn business leaders



International Desk, Barta24.com
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

Business leaders on Saturday said the massive hike in prices of petroleum products would further fuel the unprecedented inflation, intensify miseries for the common man and create serious issues for the industry due to the unbearably high cost of doing business.

They criticised the caretaker government that it should have kept the prices of petroleum unchanged due to the falling landing cost of imported crude on account of the persistent rise in the rupee strength against the dollar in the last eight interbank sessions despite rising crude oil prices in the world market.

The government had raised petrol and diesel rates by 8.5pc and 5.6pc, respectively, effective Sept 16.

Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, in a statement, explained that the rupee closed at 296.85 for a dollar in interbank on Friday, reflecting more than Rs10 to a dollar gain which touched Rs307.10 on Sept 5.

He chief recalled that the apex chamber had forewarned the authorities several times over the last few months to address the teething problems in the import of the Russian crude, i.e. handling of oil cargoes; adjustments required vis-à-vis refining processes and commercial transactional procedures to settle oil payments. Nevertheless, the authorities failed to listen to the FPCCI and currently the country would have more Russian crude by now, which is cheaper by a whopping 40pc as compared to international markets today.

While appreciating the status quo in the key policy rate by the State Bank, Mr Sheikh said the trade and industry was looking for a discounted and regionally competitive export finance scheme (EFS), long-term financing facility (LTFF) and temporary economic refinance facility (TERF) rates to cope up with the economic instability, cost of doing business and restoring competitive equilibrium in its exports.

Offering a different view, Pakistan Business Council (PBC) chief executive officer Ehsan Malik said that with an increase in the global cost of fuel and our high degree of reliance on imports, a price revision was inevitable. However, even after the latest increase, the price per litre of petrol at Rs331.38 and of diesel at Rs329.18 in Pakistan is lower than those across the border in India.

With the present pressure on both the current and fiscal accounts, he said “we can’t afford to lower taxes to buffer the impact of rising global cost of fuel. Besides, we have commitments to the IMF to deliver,” Mr Ehsan said.

Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) president Mohammad Tariq Yousuf, in a statement, said it has become almost impossible to run the industries at such a high cost. This was the fourth consecutive hike in petroleum prices whereas, during the tenure of the caretaker government alone, the petrol price has been raised by more than Rs58 per litre, which was going to create a lot of problems for the already ailing economy as the production has been curtailed by many industrial units to a great extent due to high cost.

The general public was already overburdened because of the recent increase in electricity tariffs which is aggravated by the extraordinary upsurge in petroleum prices, triggering severe anxiety not only amongst the masses but also the business and industrial community.

Given the economic crisis being faced by the country, the government has to take harsh steps to generate the required revenue for overcoming expenditures and fulfilling international commitments. However, instead of taking these steps back-to-back, the government should devise some kind of an effective strategy to ensure some sigh of relief to the masses and the industry who will not be able to bear the brunt caused by consecutive price hikes.

Tariq Yousuf stressed that the emerging situation has to be efficiently addressed and handled very carefully otherwise, the rising petroleum prices and electricity tariffs would continue to increase the cost of doing business, which would terribly affect the industrial performance, raise unemployment and open the floodgates of inflation, particularly for the middle and lower segments of the society, besides making the poor poorer due to unbearable inflation.

The US is monitoring what is happening in the quota movement: Miller



International Desk, Barta24.com
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

The US Embassy in Dhaka and Washington are keeping a close watch on what is happening in Bangladesh in the student quota reform movement, the State Department said. In addition, spokesperson Matthew Miller commented that the United States continues to convey its concerns on the Bangladesh issue from the podium of the State Department.

This spokesperson said that there can be no direct talk about listing the organization as a banned organization due to the torture and violence that the Chhatra League has been carrying out on students for the past one and a half decades.

Participating in the briefing, State Department Correspondent Mushfiqul Fazal Ansari raised the issue of violence conducted by Chhatra League and law enforcement forces in the ongoing movement of students and wanted to know, 'The ruling government has continued to attack the movement of students in Bangladesh. At least 6 students have lost their lives so far at the hands of government-backed law and order forces. Bangladesh Chhatra League, the student body of the ruling government, is brutally torturing students, especially female students. This organization has been doing such activities for the past decade and a half. Will you list BCL as a terrorist organization?'

In response, Miller said, 'I'm not going to say anything about the issue you mentioned (banning Bangladesh Chhatra League). We have observed the violence that has spread during the student protests in Dhaka. I am once again calling for the movement to be peaceful. At the same time condemn any form of violence in peaceful protests.'

In another question, this reporter wants to know, 'Abu Sayed, a student of the English department of Begum Rokeya University, stood with his chest in front of the police gun during the protest for the safety of his classmates. The police did not hesitate to shoot him. He himself could not understand that the police would shoot him like this while protecting his classmates. After the fraudulent election, Sheikh Hasina has held on to her power by torturing her like this. Foreign Minister Anthony  Blinken said, 'The whole world's eyes are on the Bangladesh elections. The United States will take whatever steps are necessary for this election.' But the moment the people's rights are taken away, you become completely silent. Why did this happen?'

In response, Miller said, 'First of all, what you said is not true. We are not silent. You've seen me speak over and over throughout the week. As I said last Monday and I say again today, we condemn any form of violence against peaceful protests.'

He said, 'The US Embassy in Dhaka and our officials from Washington are closely monitoring what is happening in Bangladesh. Students are being killed in protests, people are dying, it is under our watch.'

"We call on the government to respect a citizen's right to peaceful protest," Miller said.

;

Joe Biden infected with Corona



International Desk, Barta24.com
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

US President Joe Biden has been infected with the Coronavirus. According to the White House, Biden is suffering from mild symptoms of Corona.

This information was published in a report by AFP on Thursday (July 18).

According to the report, Biden was diagnosed with Corona while campaigning in Las Vegas, Nevada on Wednesday. After the Virus was detected, Biden left for the state of Delaware on Air Force One, the plane used by the president of the United States. He will be in isolation at his home there. "I feel good," he told reporters from the car before boarding the plane.

However, Biden was infected with Corona at a time when pressure is increasing on him within his own party, the Democratic Party, to withdraw from the presidential election to be held in November. At the age of 81, questions are being raised about how capable he is of contesting the election against rival candidate Donald Trump. That question has intensified since last month's debacle in a debate with Trump.

;

Trump chose a new partner as vice president



International Desk, Barta24.com
Photo: Collected

Photo: Collected

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

The former president of the country, Donald Trump, has chosen a new partner as the vice president of the Republican Party in the upcoming US presidential election. Trump announced Ohio State Senator JD Vance for this position. At the same time, Trump himself received the party's nomination as the presidential candidate.

On Monday (July 15), the British media BBC reported the information.

The Republican Party's four-day national convention has begun in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. On the first day of the conference, Trump announced JD Vance as his vice president in the country's presidential election to be held in November.

The crowd at the conference erupted in "JD" chants as the former president announced his decision on social media.

The National Convention of the Republican Party will continue till July 18. The party holds this conference every four years. Trump was officially nominated for the presidential election at this year's convention by state representatives of the party.

;

KP Sharma Oli sworn in as Prime Minister of Nepal



International Desk, Barta24.com
KP Sharma Oli sworn in as Prime Minister of Nepal

KP Sharma Oli sworn in as Prime Minister of Nepal

  • Font increase
  • Font Decrease

KP Sharma Oli has been sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Nepal.

He was sworn in as Prime Minister in a special ceremony at the President's office at Shital Nibas in Maharajganj, Kathmandu on Monday (July 15).

President Ramchandra Paudel administered the oath of office and secrecy to Oli at the ceremony.

This is Oli's fourth term as the country's chief executive.

President Paudel on the same evening invited political parties to form a new government under Article 76 (2) of the Constitution after outgoing Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal failed to win the confidence of the House of Representatives during Friday's floor test.

Soon after the President's call, 72-year-old Oli accompanied his new alliance partner, Nepali Congress President Sher Bahadur Deuba, to the President's office to demand the Prime Minister's post.

Unopposed, Oli submitted the signatures of 166 legislators (88 from the Congress and 78 from the UML) in his support. A minimum of 138 seats was required to form a government in the 275-strong House of Representatives.

;