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KARACHI: President of Pakistan Business Forum (PBF) Mian Usman Zulfiqar said textile and its allied sectors, agriculture, import-based materials industries, and automobiles were the top victims in the year 2022 and the next year will be a challenging one also for Pakistan’s economy.

The PBF termed 2022 year as the worst performing year for Pakistan’s economy. The local currency declined by Rs 49.80 against dollar, the interest rate reached 16%, the highest since 1998-1999, inflation in double digits, and the consumer price index (CPI) is currently hovering around 25%.

In the first five months of FY 2023, the average Sensitive Price Index (SPI) is around 28%.

Zulfiqar called on the country’s policy makers to find a possible solution to clear the country's debt. Without it, our economic growth will continue to deteriorate, as the burden of paying foreign debt and paying interest is increasing in Pakistan. The country continues to borrow, mainly to pay back old contributions and finance its current account (CAD) deficit.

However the important question remains unanswered that whether leading economies like US would support us to repay /write off our debt being a strategic ally.

The Pakistan’s total debt is around $ 125 billion and that’s certainly a lot of money for us but not for China and the United States.

On the other hand big Chinese and American companies are three times as big as our total debt. Even the value of China Petroleum & Chemicals Corporation is $ 326 billion and the value of Walmart Inc of the United States is worth $ 570 billion.

“We need comprehensive bailout come what may” because our past rescheduling debts are almost on maturity. In next year $ 26 billion loan would be pay back to donors, the PBF chief stated.

PBF Vice President, Jahanara Wattoo said we will remain in the vicious circle of the IMF and other funding agencies and therefore our rupee will be even weaker, as their condition is to consistently suprass the currencies of the underdeveloped countries if we not looking for alternatives.

Jahanara Wattoo further said political parties must understand Pakistan shouldn’t afford new economic policy after every 5 years, that's why our FDI’s are decreasing.

The realisation of high performance scenarios will require not only institutional reform but also a change in the strategic culture of the country.

Including cut down on non-essential imports and reliance on oil, energy conservation and selling strategic stakes in profitable state-owned enterprises to raise foreign exchange, subject to no possible solutions may find out. Included incentives will have to be created for increased production of essential food items and productivity in the manufacturing sector; the only practical way forward for 2023 onwards, she added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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