KARACHI: Pakistan Soap Manufacturers Association’s chairman Tanvir Ahmad Sufi has urged the Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar to take notice of soaring prices of caustic soda and direct its manufacturers to reduce their prices to reasonable levels.

Expressing concern over increase in caustic soda prices that is basic and main raw material of soap industry, he said, it is seen manufacturers of Soda Caustic are regularly increasing their prices as they had increased prices from Rs 48,500 to Rs 57,000 in 5 strokes during last six months on the pretext of hike in caustic soda prices in international market.

“It is very interesting to note that they are also exporters of caustic soda that means they are getting benefit of favourable price level in international market, as well,” he said, lamenting that PSMA members are not enjoying benefit of protection from tariff commission due to high rate of duty on import of caustic soda, and also face high rate of ITP value. But, he said, these protections are favoured to the manufacturers since inception of the first caustic soda plant in Pakistan and the period of this protection spread over about 40 years.

PSMA chairman said government might be aware of the fact that purpose of given protection to caustic soda industry was to safeguard their interest against low price of caustic soda in international market. He said that time has changed now; because price level in international market turned in their favour and they are exporting caustic soda, as well.

“In this scenario when the international market has changed the pattern of price which is in their favour now, the continuation of high rate of duty and high rate of ITP does not make any sense,” he said.

Sufi further said the manufacturers of caustic soda are enjoying good profits from their export business therefore they are least concerned about the needs of Pakistan Soap and other related industries. He made clear PSMA is not against the Pakistani industry; instead, they always favoured priority for industrial base.

“This is why we were silently bearing high cost of caustic soda from local industry and not importing cheap caustic soda from international market,” he said, adding that protection given to caustic soda industry does not mean protection without any limits. He said they are bound to make their industry stand on their feet in a specific time period keeping it balanced, modernized and competitive.

He said PSMA sees they don’t like to recover their bye-products, but just getting benefits from the production of caustic soda which in fact is a bye-product of the soda caustic plant.

“We don’t see any steps taken from them to make their industry balanced, but they prefer to increase price of caustic soda and secondly to earn profits from the high rate of export price as well as they are least concerned to give any relief to local consumers of caustic soda who have been paying cost of their survival in Pakistan for last so many years,” he said.

Sufi was of the view that increase in caustic soda is unfair and unjust and causing big financial losses and large scale unemployment which will also engender psychological problems in society.

He asked PM Abbasi and CJP to ponder upon the matter, analyze the situation of present price level on the basis of their costs structure and revise the rate of duty and ITP value of this material on realistic basis.