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FPCCI rejects hike in petroleum prices

Trade and industry have rejected the upward revision of petroleum prices, saying that it will further increase the cost of doing business amid the already high utility bills.

On Tuesday, the government jacked up petrol price by Rs4.53 to Rs293.94 per litre and that of diesel by Rs8.14 rise to Rs290.38.

Atif Ikram Sheikh, President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), said on Wednesday the government should have kept petroleum prices unchanged given the slide in international oil prices this week.

He said a trend was there for all to see that the rupee would remain largely stable in the coming weeks due to completion of the standby arrangement with the IMF and the start of a long-term IMF programme, known as the Extended Fund Facility (EFF).

Furthermore, Atif Sheikh added, Saudi Arabia has decided to raise its foreign exchange deposit with the State Bank of Pakistan by $2 billion to take it to $5bn.

The FPCCI chief said the aforementioned factors had armed the government with a reasonable cushion and it could have absorbed minor fluctuations in oil prices in the international market.

Atif Sheikh recalled that the FPCCI had warned the government a number of times that it needed to address teething problems in the import of Russian crude _ handling of oil cargo, adjustments required vis-à-vis refining processes and transactional procedures to settle oil payments.

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