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LAHORE: Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) President Mian Nauman Kabir has called upon the government to arrest dollar flight to reduce the pressure from foreign exchange reserves.

Mian Nauman was addressing an interactive session with the Lahore Economic Journalists Association (LEJA) at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry here on Monday.

LCCI Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan, Vice President Haris Ateeq, President LEJA Muhammad Sudhir Chaudhry, LEJA body members and LCCI Executive Committee Members Ali Afzal and Ateequr Rehman also spoke on the occasion.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that trade in local currencies, particularly with China, will help Pakistan to end the burden of relying on USD in bilateral trade and to bring down the trade deficit.

He said historic devaluation in Pak-rupee has been recorded against the USD during the ongoing financial year. He said that trade deficit is one of the major reasons of rupee devaluation.

He said currency swap agreements not only with regional countries but also with Russia will help make Pakistani currency stronger as weak Pak-rupee against the USD has become a serious matter of concern for the economy. He said that Pak-rupee devaluation has made the imports of raw materials and other necessities for the industrial sector more costly.

The LCCI President said that Pakistan's mutual trade volume only with China is more than USD 13 billion and if the country makes currency swap agreements with regional countries in general and with China in particular, it will significantly lift pressure off the foreign exchange reserves and dependence on the dollar will be decreased.

Kabir said: "We have to make role of SMEs meaningful to enhance our exports" and added that the government should provide environment conducive to business and facilities to the SME sector. He said that the major issue being faced by the SMEs is lack of access to the finance. The SMEs have only 6% of the total credit being given to the private sector.

He called for the promotion of renewable energy sources to reduce dependence on costly electricity through thermal means and to reduce the oil import bill. He said that the government should also make price control mechanism effective to control inflation.

LCCI Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan and Vice President Haris Ateeq called for a National Economic Policy to cope with the economic challenges saying that all segments should be on one page on this issue. They said that all the stakeholders must be taken on board while formulating the National Economic Policy. The LCCI office-bearers said that non-traditional sectors, particularly pharmaceutical, engineering and Halal food should be focused to give a quantum jump to the exports.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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