Mandviwalla urges Chambers, trade associations to make concerted efforts; Ishrat Hussain calls for diversifying exports

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The Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) held a series of webinars recently to develop national consensus on core economic agenda. Deputy Chairman Senate of Pakistan SaleemMandviwalla, , in his speech, stated that inconsistency and changes in policies have always been a problem as these changes either implemented through federal budget or otherwise throughout the year create a challenging environment for the business community. Therefore, all the Chambers and trade associations and FPCCI must unite and make collective efforts to effectively deal with issues being faced by the entire business and industrial community. The webinar was also attended by Member National Assembly Ahsan Iqbal Chaudhry, Vice Chairman Businessmen Group Anjum Nisar, President KCCI M. Shariq Vohra, Senior Vice President Saqib Goodluck, Vice President Shamsul Islam Khan and others. SaleemMandviwalla advised all the Chambers to encourage their members to bring cases of harassment by NAB to Chamber’s notice and the same should subsequently be forwarded to Deputy Chairman Senate’s office so that these could be taken up with National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in order to get them resolved. He stated that he has received hundreds of applications from all over the country from businessmen who have been victimized by NAB. “These businessmen were victimized as they carried out businesses with people currently being investigated by NAB”, he said, adding that businessmen should not be scared of the government authorities and come forward to highlight NAB’s harassment. Speaking on the occasion, MNA Ahsan Iqbal underscored that it was the private sector that holds the key to progress of any nation as the days when the national investment used to lead are gone. Economies are increasingly dependent on Foreign Direct Investment and private investment. Unfortunately, Pakistan has not been able to harness the potential of foreign direct investment and private sector investment. The economy would never flourish when private sector remains shy to invest in the economy, he added. He said, “We are now living in an extraordinary time, a time for paradigm shift. The whole model of business is undergoing fundamental changes and the models for industrial revolution developed some 300 years ago are becoming irrelevant as today the knowledge economy holds key to wealth creation.” Vice Chairman BMG AnjumNisar, in his remarks, stated that it was a matter of grave concern that even after more than 70 years of existence, Pakistan’s exports were hovering around US$24 billion whereas the FDI was around US$1.5 billion which actually is a shame for a country like Pakistan. “Hence, it was very essential to come up with Charter of Economy which must address the basic issues and we must also look at other models around the world to see what strategies were pursued by many countries to improve their exports, FDIs and other economic indicators. Secondly, the political parties have right to protest but we have to deal with political uncertainty in order to pull the country out of economic crises.” Earlier, while welcoming the webinar participants, President KCCI M. Shariq Vohra stated that the Karachi Chamber has initiated a series of webinar to develop national consensus on core economic agenda as it was very crucial to put the political differences aside and establish long term goals under a Charter of Economy for a period of 20 years in order to ensure economic and industrial stability all over the country. In the second session, Advisor to Prime Minister on Institutional Reforms and Austerity Dr. IshratHussain stressed that Pakistan, instead of staying confined to exporting textiles only, needs to diversify its exports and move towards the sunrise industries for which the global demand is expanding in double digits otherwise we will remain stuck to US$25 to US$30 billion exports. He said, “If we can capture just 1 percent of Chinese market by providing components, raw materials, intermediate goods to Chinese supply chain, we can get $23 billion exports to China which is very favorably inclined towards Pakistan and they have allowed a lot of room through the FTA.” “We are not taking advantage of the Chinese market which is so close to us and we are only focused on chasing the European Union and United States where rates of growth are either negative or 1 to 2 percent while China and Asia are growing by 5 to 6 percent and China has become the largest single exporter in the world”, he added. The PM’s Adviser further said, “We have to create incentive structure not only for five export-oriented sectors but also for any new sectors which are coming to start up the business and start up the new ventures and if they want to go for exports, we should try to provide them the financing, we should provide them tax rebates and we should give them the same treatment being given to five export-oriented sectors.” “We have to diversify our incentive structure in order to encourage the new comers, new industries, new businesses and startups particularly in the IT sector which has huge potential”, he added. Chairman BMG Zubair Motiwala, in his remarks, requested the government and political parties to please segregate politics and businesses that is the need of the hour. “Stop politicizing businesses as whenever the businesses are politicized, they don’t bring fruits to anywhere. The economies that have made remarkable progress, have actually done this by completely segregating politics and businesses.” He appreciated several measures taken by the government to minimize the impact of crises triggered by COVID-19 pandemic including the payment of stuck-up refund claims while the interest rates have also come down to 7 percent and a financing scheme at 2.5 to 3 percent was also introduced to minimize the hardships being faced by the business community.