Continued political and economic unrest in Pakistan has disillusioned entrepreneurs increasingly about the future prospects of their businesses.
According to a Gallup Pakistan survey conducted in the last quarter of 2022 for the Gallup Business Confidence Index, 65% of business owners believe their businesses are struggling.
Pakistan Businesses Forum (PBF) Vice President / CEO, Ahmad Jawad said government should immediately engage industrialists in policy discussion and try to minimise their problems to ensure at least moderate growth in large-scale manufacturing during the current fiscal year. It is true that in some areas — like energy pricing — there is little that the government can do to facilitate exporters except to allow subsidies to continue for a short run. The reason is the International Monetary Fund conditions do not leave room for this.
Similarly he believes, government needs to focus on the basic requirements of the entrepreneurs, namely affordable energy, regular supply of raw materials, finance at single digit mark up, efficient logistics, marketing support for exports, filling of the technological gap and increasing the agricultural yield per acre.
Jawad said Pakistan currently needs to reset its export sector and do it fast. Curbing most imports in the short run, as the country has done, is understandable in the short run, but in the long run, it hurts the economy.
A World Bank report of October 2021 has highlighted several weaknesses in our export sector. The most obvious finding of the report is that “the country has struggled to diversify its exports, falling behind the rest of the world in terms of both products and destinations.”
The report reveals that the number of export product varieties has fallen over the past decade “from an average of 3,167 in 2007-2009 to an average of 2,894 in 2017-2019.”
The report also highlights that in terms of export market diversification, Pakistan has made a negligible achievements. “In 2019, Pakistan reached 8pc of the pool of potential importers, up from 7.4pc observed a decade ago.—NNI