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ISLAMABAD: The business community and agriculturalists have shown serious concerns over the capability of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar-led economic team to safeguard the interests of their respective sectors, as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is set to visit Islamabad Tuesday, Jan 31 to continue discussions under ninth review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) programme.

This was the crux of an anecdotal survey carried out by Business Recorder where background interviews of different sectors’ office-holders and experts were conducted.

Senior vice president Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) Dr Sajjad Arshad told Business Recorder that around 80 percent businesses and 40 percent labour in the city is textile sector related. However, due to flawed policies of the government including restricting imports of raw materials, increasing gas and electricity prices, more than 50 percent businesses were closed.

Arshad said that further increase in the prices of gas and electricity under the IMF pressure would render them uncompetitive in the international market and exports would further decline in coming months. “How could we get satisfied from the capability of Dar-led economic team to fetch a better deal from the IMF who already surrender”, said Arshad.

Budgetary targets: Govt to take fiscal measures set by IMF: Dar

“The economic team is absolutely not capable to deal with the IMF,” said Ijaz Khokhar, chairman Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturing and Exports Association (PRGMEA), adding that the finance minister was supposed to hold meetings with the stakeholder before starting negotiations with the IMF, especially with value-added sectors safeguards to increase exports.

He further said that the country would be further pushed back if exports further declined, and it would result in huge unemployment and will cause more violence and crime ratio in the country. Khokhar said that Pakistan’s exports already getting uncompetitive due to increased input costs due to the massive depreciation of Pakistan’s currency and the government must safeguard the exports oriented sectors while negotiating with the IMF. “But the reality is that Ishaq Dar always ignored the export sector during his past tenures,” he added.

Khalid Mahmood Khokhar, president Pakistan Kissan Ittehad (PKI) also expressed concerns over the ability of the economic team to fetch a better deal for the agriculture sector while fearing more taxes on fertilisers, pesticide, seeds, besides an increase in gas and electricity prices.

Khokhar said that wheat sowing is below the target in the country while fertilisers input declined by 40 percent in the current season due to high prices, which would have a negative impact on the yield.

He said that a further increase in the prices of fertilisers, pesticide, gas, and electricity would create a food security challenge in the country. Like all other agricultural countries including our neighbour, the government must subsidise DAP fertiliser with a direct subsidy paid to farmers, said Khokhar, adding that Pakistan is an agriculture country, but imports wheat, cotton, pulses, and edible oil of around $14-15 billion every year due to lack of investment in the agriculture sector.

The Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI), has however expressed satisfaction over the economic team while saying that Ishaq Dar is capable to deal with the IMF in the best interest of the country, the general public, and industry.

In response to the Business Recorder question, the RCCI responded that the business community has great expectations from Ishaq Dar. In 1998 when Pakistan was facing international sanctions and in 2013 when terrorism and power outages were at peak, Dar was the finance minister who helped Pakistan to come out of the economic and security crisis. In 2016-17, Pakistan for the first time completed the IMF programme.

The Chamber further responded that this time the country is going through a difficult time. The immediate threat of default is hovering around. We strongly demand that the finance minister shall interact with the key stakeholders and the chamber of commerce. This time we are in survival stage. To get Pakistan out of the financial quagmire, we need collective efforts and support from all corners, it added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


Comments are closed.

Abdul jabbar Jan 31, 2023 10:54am
He should accompany with clerics whom he has promised interest free economy.
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Khan Jan 31, 2023 01:33pm
But his kids are married into the Sharif clan, so Dar will do whatever he wants. Such is the system of lazy and incompetent aristocracy in Pakistan.
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TimeToMovveOn Feb 01, 2023 08:45pm
@Abdul jabbar , Well said. islamic banking proposal is like arranging the deck chairs on the titanic
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Aqeel Feb 02, 2023 08:16am
"Talks with IMF team: Doubts exist about Dar-led team’s capability" Dar does not know an iota of an iota about international finance, macro and micro economic...his specialty is fixing punctures in bicycles tires...everything he touches gets punctured! No wonder country is in economic mess!
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Amin Feb 02, 2023 08:53am
Dar has tried to mask his failure and incompetence by stating that bad economy is due to will of God...that shows the mindset of a con man...220 million people are struggling day and night due to his incompetence...they are praying for him to have a dialogue with God soon...and God gives him a 220 million volt jolt to wake him up to reality so that he can realize why he with economy is already in hell!
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