FAISALABAD: It’s time to implement harsh economic measures on the insistence of the IMF in a way that the poor masses are burdened the least and the country’s economy is put on solid and sustained footing, according to Dr Khurram Tariq, the president of Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI).

Addressing the International Chambers Summit, he said that Pakistan is entangled in multiple problems and it is difficult to discuss all these issues in a single sitting. Hence, we must identify 3-4 core and most critical issues and discuss only these along with their practical and tangible solutions.

He said that we must also keep in our mind the capacity of the government to resolve these issues and only stress the problems which the government could solve. About IMF related issues, he said that we must understand the demand of the Fund and then analyze our ground realities regarding resolution of its conditionalities.

He said that it is a buzz word that the government has to take difficult decisions and generally its perception is that the government intends to add more burdens on the people of Pakistan. He said that the government has failed to maintain a fine balance between its income and expenditures for a long time.

About the power sector, President FCCI said that recovery of FESCO is hundred percent while its line losses are minimal. He said that other discos are making losses and are deficient in recoveries. He said that it is the duty of the government to help them to recover arrears and build amount as the government has the absolute enforcement power.

He said that the power sector has more than 4,000billion rupees as circular debt and it could not be eliminated unless and until line losses are reduced and hundred percent recoveries are ensured. Commenting on the difficult decisions, he said that its target should not be people but its direction should be towards government and governance.

He said that as we are deficient in financial resources, Pakistan could not bear the burden of one hundred ministries. He said that the crux of the issue is government and governance which needs immediate and drastic changes.

He said that during the next five years the government spendings and pension bill would become an unbearable burden on the national exchequer and no government would be in a position to manage it. He said that in the prevailing scenario, we must focus on enhancing exports and increase agricultural productivity to improve our income. He said that in the case of traditional export, we have a very limited margin but there is huge untapped potential for the export of IT products and other non-traditional sectors. He lamented that despite the huge potential of the IT sector, we could not develop the IT ecosystem.

He said that we must heavily invest in our youth to equip it with new emerging and cutting edge technologies to compete in the global markets. Similarly, we must take aggressive measures to give a quantum jump to agriculture production with prudent policy interventions. “The planning is also imperative for the development of import substitution industry to cut down our import bill”, he said and added that we have 1100KM long coastal belt and vast tracts of agricultural land but it is an irony of fate that we are waiting for the ships of imported soybean for example.

He said that industrialization is yet another segment which could mitigate our economic sufferings.

Dr. Khurram Tariq expressed concern over the continuing political uncertainty and said that no business could flourish in this situation and all economic stakeholders must sit together for a brainstorming session to resolve their issues on a sustained basis.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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