ISLAMABAD-Business community has urged the government to address structural issues identified by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and for re-initiation of direct trade with India to reduce cost of import.

Kashif Anwar, President of Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry, has said that at a time when the national market lacks alternative raw materials for industries, it is very important to re-initiate direct trade with India to reduce cost of imports from India arriving via Dubai.

He was speaking at a webinar on “Challenges Facing Pakistan’s Economy – Private Sector’s Perspectives” organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here.

Anwar has urged the government to adopt a charter of economy to design and guide long-term policy as a first step amidst the current economic crisis, which must be augmented with short-term policy interventions. He further said that amid the threat of increase in utility prices, the government needs to prioritize increase in exports and reduction in imports by industrial substitution of import items to meet the market demand. He emphasized that preventing disruption of the supply chain of raw materials for industries is a crucial element in increasing exports, which is currently being undermined by restriction on imports. 

Dr Vaqar Ahmed, SDPI Joint Executive Director, said policy makers must deliberate and initiate host of short and long-term measures to stabilize the macro-economic situation and address structural issues identified by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He said that the government has invited proposals from private sector and civil society organizations so that their inputs might be incorporated in the financial bill to improve the economic outlook of the country.

Dr Shehla Javed Akram, the founder of Lahore Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, reiterated that supply chain disruption of pharmaceutical industries is exacerbating the challenges of this sector. She pointed out that the country lags behind in terms of sector-specific policies compared to India and other western countries. This has reduced the sector’s competitiveness, she added. She urged the government to design and implement policies to reduce import dependency. We must shift to make on local raw materials like India. She further suggested that the government should abolish the policy of price fixation and smuggling, which are causing closure of pharmaceuticals in Pakistan. She stressed that price fixation must be restricted to life saving drugs. 

Anees Mahmood, Director, Mahmood Group of Industries, emphasized on remodeling the outdated educational system as the current textile industry is heavily reliant on Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence, something which the labour is lags behind in terms of skills and experience. He said that there is much potential for sustainability and circularity in the textile sector and it is the responsibility of entrepreneurs to introduce new ideas, technologies, skills and minds to support growth of the sector in the country. He called for the continuity of policies irrespective of any political party ruling at any given time to prevent negative externalities and disruptions from harming the sector. 

Rehan Bharara, the Chairman of Faisalabad Garment City, said that disruption in supply chain due to restriction on imports has widespread negative implications for the country’s economy as we are highly reliant on import of raw materials. He suggested that unless the country has import substitutions, the export sector cannot truly flourish and expand. He urged the government to take the stakeholders from industries and political parties on-board to develop sustainable solutions and policies for industrial sector that can be continued in immunity to political changes. He recommended the introduction of amnesty scheme for dollars to encourage private dollar holders to deposit dollar in banks so that the dollar reserves might be improved.

Progressive Group 

supports elections 

boycott call of chambers

Progressive Group in the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry has extended its full support to the announcement by all the chambers of the country to boycott the general elections if political parties fail to sign a charter of the economy at the earliest.

The consensus between the chambers was reached at the International Chambers Summit 2023 organized by the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The Summit was attended by the 54 presidents of the Chambers of Commerce and Industry in the country.

Representatives of the business and industries at this summit had stressed the need for such a charter of the economy and termed it the dire need of the hour. They declared that if all the political parties do not sign the charter of the economy before the elections, the business community, which is also an economic party, will boycott the general elections.

Progressive Group’s President Khalid Usman, Arshad Chaudhry, Abdul Wadood Alvi, Muhammad Ejaz Tanveer and others said that the present time demands that all the political parties should rise above the political interests and work together for the betterment of the national economy.

They said only joint efforts by all the stakeholders especially political parties can bring the country out of the present economic predicament. They welcomed the government plan of waiving off the penalties on the large number of containers stuck at the ports but said the actual need is to clear the imported items at the earliest and avoid shortage of different items especially food items in the country.

They emphasized the political stability in the country which has been hampering the growth and said that it is necessary for economic stability. They said that all the political parties will have to play their role for the economic sustainability of the country.

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