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In its budget proposal for the fiscal year 2020-21, the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) has said that accelerated farm mechanization is an important element for accelerating growth in the agriculture sector.
One of the main constraints in increasing agricultural productivity was the non-availability of quality tractors and agricultural machinery at right time and at affordable prices to the farmers' community.
The FPCCI advisory council on budget emphasized promotion of value-addition in the agriculture produce. Value addition also enhances the profitability of agri-produce.
A wide range of development of rice is nowadays getting popular. Adding value to raw milk can be undertaken on an individual farm or a group of farms, using a larger, and often more reliable, supply of the raw product. Developing such cottage industries can improve social wellbeing of the rural area as well as making an enormous contribution to the economy.
However, to compete in the international market Pakistan needs to develop its international branding which is not possible without government support and guidelines.
The consistency in the policy and mechanism is critical for brand development. There are endless benefits of building and maintaining a strong brand as a strong brand works to build customer recognition, competitive edge in the international market and easy introduction of new products.
In the 1950s Pakistan embarked on an ambitious programme of industrialization and by the 1960s it had acquired a large manufacturing sector with high growth rate.
The strategy followed for industrialization was import substitution. The policy of import substitution has been considered a success because it enables to increase domestic production and save several billion dollars.
Our high dependence on imports and falling foreign direct investment is putting pressure on external sector. Pakistan needs to respond to the changing global economic dynamics.
Pakistan has a wide range of agri-products which can diversify to curtail imports such as dairy products, cheese and milk-based confectioneries, fruit juices etc.
On the other hand the process of import substitution requires basic industry therefore the FPCCI advisory council proposes promotion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) - the backbone of the economy. SMEs are considered as a vital method for work creation and poverty alleviation.
The presence of SMEs brings successful usage of nearby assets and lifts up the economies everywhere throughout the world. Generally, the advanced nations possess 90 percent of enterprises in SMEs.
However, this council suggests helping small and medium enterprise to secure financing and organize workshops and prepare system to reinforce SMEs area in Pakistan by enhancing information and specialized skills.
Finally, the council under the current crisis of COVID-19 suggests a coordinated action by all key government agencies dealing with finance, monetary, health, education, transportation and commerce, and the government of Pakistan.
Pakistan's economy is already spinning, and the stock market has declined sharply, weakening the rupee. Monetary policy, unlike in a business cycle, is less effective in dealing with a pandemic.
The problem is not liquidity alone, but also confidence in the future and disruption in economic activity. Supply chains are also disrupted. For Pakistan, one silver lining is the sharp drop in global oil and gas prices with positive effects on the current account deficit.
The government should target certain sectors -- pharma, chemicals, textile, leather, plastics, surgical, rice, sports goods, construction etc. -- for further regulatory restraint to reduce the cost of doing business.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020

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