Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), is up in arms against Prime Minister Imran Khan's economic team, saying massive devaluation has adversely affected the economy and boosted inflation.

This message has been sent by the FPCCI to the Prime Minister, who is in the driving seat in taking economic decisions.

On October 8, 2019, President FPCCI, Daroo Khan Achakzai leveled serious charges at the Prime Minister's Advisor on Commerce, Textile, Industries and Production and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood, saying that he is giving preference to multinationals over FPCCI and other trade bodies, urging the Prime Minister to remove him and give the portfolio to someone else.

FPCCI wrote several letters to Prime Minister against Dawood in the past, but recently sent another letter to the Prime Minister on the current treatment FPCCI is being given by the incumbent economic team.

The letter says, business community has supported PTI government from the very first day in all its efforts to revive economy. Despite several difficult decisions and hard time the FPCCI has stood behind Prime Minister Imran Khan's policies as it believes in sincerity of his efforts. Unfortunately some elements in Imran Khan's government are working in contradiction to his vision due to which the economy has not shown any visible healthy signs even after the lapse of 13 months.

The trade and economic related Ministries have adopted a policy of sponsoring a select elite class of businessmen for consultations at the highest level. This has created disconnect between Prime Minister and his government with the genuine stakeholders of the trade and economy.

“The meeting arranged for you are with people who represent a minority of trade and business sectors where majority of businessmen including elected representatives of different sectors are deliberately kept away to cover up their failure and poor performance," said the letter written to Prime Minister.

“The most neglected are the exporters, SMEs and small traders of the country, as they do not fit in the criteria subscribed by the Ministry of Commerce to be eligible to voice their issues at any government of level, being not the elite of the country. The SMEs form the backbone of any country's economy and exporters are the lifeline for earning the foreign exchange through trade but unfortunately they are nowhere on the radar of economic ministries.

The exporters have been deprived of their cash liquidity due to stuck up tax refunds now for years. So called bonds which are not worth more than a piece of paper have been issued to them in lieu of their refunds. These have no value in the market and cannot be a substitute to cash needed to keep their manufacturing and business alive," the letter added.

According to the letter, the policy of curbing imports is a positive step, if confined to luxury or non-essential items but restricting essential raw materials needed for manufacturing and subsequently for exports just to narrow the trade deficit is devastating. This has not only slowed down manufacturing but affected exports and increased unemployment by closing industries.

The previous governments used the foreign visit of Prime Ministers to translate into business opportunities by including trade delegation in the official entourage but somehow this practice has been discontinued.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019