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KARACHI: The leadership of Businessmen Group (BMG), while referring to FBR’s recommendations to impose ban on luxury items and raising duties on many imported items including cars, household items, mobile phones, machineries, tiles, ceramics and many other items, stated that although the decision to raise duties has been taken to discourage imports in order to deal with swelling current account deficit but unfortunately the stakeholders have once again not been taken on board which may create a lot of confusion.

After holding a meeting to discuss the economic issues being faced by the country, Chairman BMG Zubair Motiwala, Vice Chairmen BMG Tahir Khaliq, Haroon Farooki, Anjum Nisar, Jawed Bilwani and General Secretary BMG AQ Khalil said that the business and industrial community fears that FBR might have also increased duties on those items as well which were either not being manufactured locally or being produced in lesser quantities as compared to demand.

This would create shortage of all such items and as the duties have been raised exorbitantly, the prices of all such items would go up beyond the approach of common man. It is also imperative that competition in terms of quality against the imported goods is also maintained.

“We hope that FBR has not recommended any increase in duties on imported raw materials for industrial purposes which, if raised, would terribly affect the industrial performance and the economy will be plunged into further crises,” they said, adding that the imports of raw materials for industrial consumption must continue without any hindrance with a view to ensure increased production, high exports and import-substitution.

They also expressed deep concerns over persistent devaluation of Pakistani rupee against US dollar which has escalated to all time high of Rs200, rising inflation. They said heavy subsidy being provided to minimize the impact of rising international petroleum prices and other poorly performing economic indicators would be disastrous if not promptly and prudently handled. They said it high time that the government has to take difficult decisions while the political crises must also be tackled on war footing basis as these are amongst the major reasons for terribly low confidence of local and foreign investors.

They urged the government, all political parties and other institutions that as Pakistan was going through a very critical phase, they all must forget their political differences for the time being and prioritize the economic and financial crises being suffered by the country and take actions in the larger interest of the country on top priority.

They noted that huge amount of foreign exchange earned legally by overseas Pakistanis still remains parked outside the country which has to be brought to the country by offering complete tax waiver on foreign remittances.

The overseas patriotic Pakistanis must be fully encouraged, incentivized and facilitated for remitting funds to Pakistan. “The government has to create an enabling environment to such an extent that overseas Pakistanis could confidently transfer funds to Pakistan and invest in numerous sectors of the economy.”

Criticizing the ongoing talks about country falling into bankruptcy, they said that it was really unfortunate that instead of coming up with a solution to save the motherland from falling into disaster, the political parties were busy in blame game and point scoring which was neither in their own favour nor in the favour of Pakistan. It was the need of the hour to take bold decisions on emergency basis to save the economy.

They said that widespread propagation of political battling in the mainstream and social media was sending a very negative message to the rest of world by portraying Pakistan as an extremely unstable country which was neither in favour of the country nor in the favour of political parties.

BMG Leadership underscored that all political parties must jointly devise and agree upon the desperately needed ‘Charter of Economy’ which the Karachi Chamber has been demanding since long. Regardless of political differences, the economic policies once agreed upon and implemented under the said Charter of Economy must remain intact and all political parties must remain on one page as far as the economy was concerned. Instead of politics, the economy has to lead the country at any cost so all political parties must exhibit patience and take those moves which were in the favour of Pakistan and its economy, they added.

BMG Leadership also stressed the need to publicize the modalities of negotiations with the IMF and targeted subsidies as the business community leaders fear that the burden will be passed on to the common man and loyal taxpayers.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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