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Export increase, a major challenge

PRIME Minister Imran Khan Thursday said economic future of the country was linked with enhancement of exports which so far have remained far below the actual potential. Chairing 80th meeting of the Board of Administrators of Export Development Fund (EDF) in Islamabad, he said in the past the revenue-centric economic policies with overemphasis on collection of revenues made the industry uncompetitive, adding, the present government had made a paradigm shift in prioritizing the competitiveness of industry vis-à-vis revenue collection.
There can be no two opinions that meaningful increase in exports and revenue collection are solutions to many problems that the country faces today. Pakistan, no doubt, has immense potential to increase its exports as it has fertile land to produce and process agricultural products and enhance exports but this cannot be done without implementation of the measures needed for the purpose. Industrialization is key to producing surplus for exports and that calls for drastic reforms for attracting investment in different sectors of economy especially manufacturing. Fast track implementation of projects under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) provided a historic opportunity to create necessary infrastructure that could serve as an incentive for prospective entrepreneurs to turn towards Pakistan. However, the pace of implementation of these projects is facing serious snags during the last several months due to some apparent confusion among governmental circles. Similarly, there are many areas and sectors where local and foreign investors would be more than willing to make investment particularly in the backdrop of improved security environment but unfortunately we have not been able to eliminate red-tape and bureaucrats still sit over files for months and years and as a consequence investors flee to some other attractive destinations. We have also been emphasizing in these columns that instead of devaluing rupee we should take genuine measures for reducing the cost of production so that our products could compete in the international market. The policy of devaluation and frequent increase in prices of POL products, electricity and gas benefits others at the cost of our own people and must be reviewed by a Government that claims to keep the national interests above all considerations. The Prime Minister may also direct the Commerce Ministry to go for export diversification as mere focus on textile produces limited results and in many case incentives provided to the sector surpass the intended benefits.