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FAISALABAD: Political and economic uncertainty coupled with disharmony between federal and provincial governments is badly affecting the businesses, said Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FCCI) president Atif Munir Sheikh.

Addressing the annual dinner of the All Pakistan Bed Sheets and Upholstery Manufacturers Association (APBUMA), he said federal and provincial governments are at daggers drawn and the business community has been sandwiched between their political rivalries and confrontation.

He said gas tariffs are different for Punjab and other provinces which are directly hitting the industrial sector of this province and the Punjab government must highlight this issue at the national level to provide a level playing field to the industrial sector across the country. He further said that the Punjab government must resolve the provincial issues on top priority basis which directly falls under its domain.

Continuing, Atif Munir Sheikh said the business community had close liaison with the previous government and their issues were being resolved expeditiously as they had direct access to the top level. He termed the tenure of Mian Aslam Iqbal as best during his previous term as provincial minister for industry and trade.

“Mian Aslam Iqbal not only resolved their provincial issues but also played a key role in settling the matters relating to the federal government”, he said and also appreciated his unprecedented cooperation during the organization of Pakistan Economic Conference by FCCI. However, he said despite our best-efforts, issues relating to the FIEDMC are still pending.

He said that standing crops, water courses and illegal passages in allotted plots are major causes of delay in the colonization of M3 and Allama Iqbal Industrial Estates. He said that non availability of the FIEDMC board and Chief Executive Officer has also delayed investment of millions of dollars by the local and foreign investors with technology transfer. He said that it is now your (Mian Aslam Iqbal) responsibility to focus on its speedy colonization to enhance exportable surplus in addition to creating jobs for the unemployed youth.

He said on the directive of former chief minister Usman Buzadar, one window operation and special facilitation desk was also established at FIEDMC but these could not give expected results due to the regime change. He particularly mentioned the proposed labour card to provide subsidized products to the secured industrial workers but it could not be introduced.

He said now it must be launched on a top priority basis to facilitate the workers. He also mentioned the SME sector which is one of the most neglected segments of the economy despite its proven importance in GDP. “It also needs your immediate attention”, he said and added that the local small industrial estate is also in shambles. He mentioned the need to construct an expo centre and said that date was finalized for its stone laying ceremony which was deferred due to the political change.

Atif Munir said that the industrial sector was booming with hundred percent capacity and investors were planning to expand their units. “They had imported new machinery but it is still laying unutilized due to the prevailing slump in the economy”, he said and added that 70 percent of our domestic industry has also been closed down but no one is paying any heed to this national and fundamental issue which may trigger industrial unrest due to massive retrenchment.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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