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KARACHI: Caretaker Federal Minister for Commerce, Industries & Production Dr Gohar Ejaz has said that there is a need to introduce export culture in the country to achieve the $ 100 billion export target in the next five years to overcome the ongoing economic crisis.

While addressing the business community at Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), he said that the government is chalking out a long-term plan to increase the country’s exports four times to $ 100 billion in the next five years.

“Under the long-term export strategy, we are going to organize a mega conference of the world’s leading brands during the tenure of caretaker government. Some 100 buyers will be invited as state guests and a meeting with the Prime Minister of Pakistan will be arranged to give them confidence,” he informed.

In addition, offices of leading brands will be set up in the country and these offices will be declared an export zone to facilitate them, he added.

“We are still waiting for support from Dubai and Saudi Arabia, while we can bring more inflows than loans by focusing on exports. There is a need to adopt the export approach as there is huge export scope in the country,” Gohar said.

Presently, the textile sector contributes $ 17 billion share in the country’s total exports of $ 27 billion, which means there is massive scope in the other sectors, he mentioned.

Talking about the gas theft, he said that UFG (unaccounted for gas) is much higher than that benchmark, therefore cabinet in principle has granted approval for action against the gas thieves and soon a grand operation will be conducted.

Gohar said the country is facing a gas shortfall and RLNG is being imported to meet the domestic demand, therefore, gas supply at subsidized rate is not possible. He informed that Rs 966 billion subsidy is being paid to the power sector, in addition to Rs 566 billion of theft losses and Rs 400 billion of interest payments on the circular debt.

Currently, he mentioned, Pakistani industry is paying much higher tariff compared to other regional competitors. In order to make Pakistan’s industry more competitive, there is a proposal to introduce a wheeling power policy for industries so they can get electricity at cheaper tariff, he informed. Under this proposal, industry and exporters can purchase electricity directly from the producers at a lower rate, he added.

He said that the deadline for early closing of shops has been extended and the government has asked shopkeepers to submit proposals along with hourly sales trends to check the consumer flow and take a final decision on the shop timing.

Replying to a question, he said that the dollar was being traded at Rs 300 and now down to Rs 290 after the government’s action against the illegal dealers. “In my opinion, today, the real exchange rate in the country is 260 rupees,” he said.

Gohar said that the government imposed some restrictions on imports to reduce the pressure on external accounts. With these measures, imports were curtailed but smuggling promoted and the volume of smuggling from Afghanistan and Iran rose to $ 5 billion.

He assured the business community that during the tenure of the caretaker government, all possible steps will be taken to facilitate trade and industry.

On the occasion, Chairman Businessmen Group Zubair Motiwala and President KCCI Mohammed Tariq Yousuf and others were also present.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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