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LAHORE: Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal on Saturday said that the private sector should take the driving seat to move Pakistan forward. The only way for development is to enable the private sector and remove all the bottlenecks coming in the way.

LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir presented the address of welcome while Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan and Vice President Haris Attique and LCCI former Presidents Shahid Hassan Sheikh, Sohail Lashari and Tahir Javaid Malik, former Senior Vice President Amjad Ali Jawa and Executive Committee members also spoke on the occasion.

Ahsan Iqbal said that the private sector should be given the opportunities to make ‘Made in Pakistan’ a standard brand worldwide and increases the national exports. He said that in 1960s, exports of Pakistan were $200 million the combined exports of South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand were the same. Today exports of South Korea are over $600 billion, Malaysis $300 billion and Thailand’s exports are over $267 billion while we have reached only $30 billion during this period. He added that the exports of Turkey have increased from $50 billion in year 2000 to $288 billion today. The federal minister said that all developed countries have made exports-led growth their first priority.

He agreed with the LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir that the political stability is a must for economic development. He said that the country got a rare opportunity in the shape of CPEC. At the time, when no-one was ready to invest a single dollar in Pakistan, the Chinese President signed the agreements worth $46 billion.

The Federal Minister said that the development budget in 2018 was Rs1000 billion but when we came back to power in April 2022, it was reduced to Rs550 billion. He said that the local and foreign investors should be encouraged to invest.

He said that our tax-to-GDP ratio is only 9.5% whereas we need at least 18-20 percent to ensure sustainable development. We also need to develop entrepreneurship in the country. He said that we need to improve Pakistan’s ranking in world EODB Index.

He said that now Pakistan has 350 universities and more than 3000 km motorways but unfortunately our speed of growth is very slow comparatively to the other countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Bangladesh.

Earlier, while responding to the questions of media Minister for Planning and Development, Ahsan Iqbal says the government, despite having a limited tenure is doing its best to improve country’s economy.

He said Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf ruined the economy before leaving the government however the present government took the economy out of crisis, which will further improve in the coming six to eight months.

Ahsan Iqbal said boosting exports is the only way to take the economy forward in the right direction.

He also stressed the need to double the tax to GDP ratio to provide resources for the country’s progress.

The Minister said we will have to boost our production capabilities. He said China has offered brotherly assistance to improve Pakistan’s economy.

Ahsan Iqbal said political stability, continuity in economic policies and social solidarity are needed for a country’s progress.

LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir said that an economic council should be established and all the political parties and stakeholders should be included to set a right direction. He said that the political instability is one of the biggest problems being faced by the country while the financial crisis is adding fuel to the fire.

He said that the income of agriculture sector should be taxed while the government should have currency swap agreements with China, Iran and Russia. He said that the business community should be given representation in the government institutions.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that CPEC has entered into second phase with focus on industrial cooperation, trade, agriculture and socio-economic development. He hoped that this phase would achieve its objectives of accelerating the socio-economic development all across Pakistan through engagement in various fields ranging from agricultural growth to expansion of tourism industry and enhancing technical educational and healthcare facilities, besides joint ventures between China and Pakistan to counter especially the climate change threat.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that a considerable delay has been observed in the completion of Special Economic Zones under the CPEC. It is quite obvious that once the Special Economic Zones under CPEC are fully operational, they will give rise to the demand of trained manpower. Please share with us as to how government will ensure the sufficient supply of trained manpower.

He said that technology transfer is one aspect of economic development that has always eluded us. The entire globe has witnessed the economic development achieved by China during the last couple of decades. China improved their technological base with their own resources and experts that led them to become very competitive in international market.

The LCCI President said that the present situation is all set to engage Chinese and other foreign companies with our local firms for ensuring knowledge and technology transfer, especially in the industrial and agro-processing sectors. The role of your Ministry is of paramount importance in this connection.

He added that exports-led growth holds the key to sustainable economic development. We need to develop the products and services that are being demanded globally. We have been voicing for value addition in all sectors of economy as we cannot fetch good revenues by exporting raw materials and semi-finished goods.

Mian Nauman Kabir further said that the government should assist the businesses in Pakistan in going global and developing Pakistani brands in international market, otherwise, we will not be able to break the vicious circle of trade and current account deficit. It is high time for the business community to adopt a market-driven approach to get space in the global market but we need some hand holding from the government.

He said that Pakistan has a thriving technology sector. The digital technologies are a must for transforming the Industrial, Agriculture and Services sectors of Pakistan’s economy.

The LCCI Senior Vice President Mian Rahman Aziz Chan said that the elimination of Red tapism is crucial. He said that the Prime Minister is well aware of the country’s economic situation and the solution to these problems, it is necessary to implement a strategy to solve them.

He said that we have not established most modern technical institutes with the help of USA, while many countries including India have established such institutes and they are getting full benefits from them.

He said that Indus River should be used as a transportation route which will reduce the cost of doing business. He said that the establishment of industrial zones under CPEC is also delayed and there is also need to work on the western route of CPEC as well. He said that our mining sector is contributing negligible in the country’s GDP and we have to work on improving it.

The LCCI Vice President Haris Attique said on the occasion that the Ministry of Planning and Development is the most important ministry on which our future generations and the development of Pakistan depend, so they should formulate the policies through mutual cooperation with other ministries.

He said that Lahore is playing an important role by contributing 11% share in national GDP and 18 to 20% share in country’s exports. He hoped that deliberations of this successful brainstorming session will be fully implemented.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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