Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal said on Saturday that the government was working to reshape economy from import substitutions to export oriented.
In a meeting with the business community here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry
(LCCI), he said the only way for development was to enable the private sector and remove all bottlenecks coming in the way, asserting that private sector should take the driving seat to move the economy forward.
Ahsan Iqbal said the private sector should be given opportunities to make Made in Pakistan a standard brand worldwide and increase the national exports. He said that in 1960s, exports of Pakistan were $ 200 million the combined exports of South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand were the same.
“Today exports of South Korea are over $ 600 billion dollars, Malaysis $ 300 billion and Thailand’s exports are over 267 billion dollars while we have reached only $ 30 billion during this period”, he said and added that the exports of Turkey had increased from $50 billion in year 2000 to $ 288 billion today. The federal minister said that all developed countries had made exports-led growth their first priority.
He agreed with LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir that political stability was must for economic development. He said that the country got a rare opportunity in the shape of CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor). At the time, when no one was ready to invest a single dollar in Pakistan, the Chinese president signed the agreements worth 46 billion dollars.
The federal minister said:” The development budget in 2018 was Rs 1,000 billion but when we came back to power in April 2022, it was reduced to Rs 550 billion”. He said that the local and foreign investors should be encouraged to invest.
He said the country’s tax-to-GDP ratio was only 9.5 per cent whereas it needed at least 18-20 percent to ensure sustainable development. “We also need to develop entrepreneurship in the country”, he added.
Ahsan Iqbal said:” We need to improve Pakistan’s ranking in world EODB Index”. He said:” Now Pakistan has 350 universities and more than 3000-km motorways but, unfortunately, our speed of growth is very slow comparatively to the other countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Bangladesh”.
In his welcome address, LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir said that an economic council should be established and all political parties and stakeholders should be included to set a right direction.
He said the income of agriculture sector should be taxed while the government should have currency swap agreements with China, Iran and Russia. He said that the business community should be given representation in the government institutions.—APP