LAHORE: Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, on his historic visit to Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has said that all policies should be formed in consultation with the business community who are the key stakeholders of the economy.
Former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif, former finance minister Ishaq Dar, Maryam Nawaz, former ministers Ahsan Iqbal, Khurram Dastgir and Maryam Aurangzeb were accompanied, while former LCCI presidents and executive committee members were also present in the meeting.
LCCI President Kashif Anwar delivered the address of welcome and shed light on the challenges faced by the economy and their solutions. Nawaz Sharif said that it was good to see manifold improvement in the chamber. If the economy, industry, political and social conditions are lively, then the Chamber and the business community will also be lively.
He said that LCCI is playing a commendable role to solve the problems of the businessmen. He said that if we want to progress, then the voice of Lahore Chamber and the business community must be heard. He said that businesses cannot run due to inflation and people are also facing difficulties.
Nawaz Sharif said that in 2013, Pakistan was also removed from the grey list. If Allah gives us a chance, we will change the economic fate of the country. He said that we were not ready to come to the government in 2022 but it was necessary to save Pakistan from default in which we succeeded.
He said that we decided to move forward fearlessly for the interest of Pakistan. We started privatization and liberalization.
He said that Pakistan was made peaceful, Zarb-i-Azb and Radal-Fasaad operations were carried out. He said that for the first time in the history of Pakistan, we completed the IMF programme, we brought the CPEC, we made plans to extract Thar coal and then generated electricity from it.
He thanked the LCCI existing and former LCCI office-bearers. Shehbaz Sharif and Ishaq Dar have also been presidents of Lahore Chamber and understand the problems of industry, trade and economy well.
He said that when he became the prime minister for the first time in 1990, and introduced economic reforms order to which the business community gave an encouraging response.
LCCI President Kashif Anwar thanked Nawaz Sharif for visiting Lahore Chamber and said that Shehbaz Sharif and Ishaq Dar are also former presidents of Lahore Chamber. Shehbaz Sharif as prime minister saved the country from default by finalizing the agreement with the IMF which is commendable.
He said that the budget presented by Shehbaz Sharif’s government was excellent but later some of these decisions were reversed. This is the courage of the business community which persevered in spite economic challenges.
The LCCI president said that due to the sharp increase in the prices of electricity, gas and daily necessities of life, problems are piling up.
He said that due to continuous devaluation of rupee against dollar we are facing problems like inflation, high cost of production, high markup rate and high cost of utility etc. Due to the strict measures, the value is strengthen. The difference in the rate of the dollar in the inter-bank and open market has also been eliminated. There is a great need for stability in the value of the rupee and bringing it below 200 rupees against the dollar is extreme.
Kashif Anwar said that tax net expansion has become inevitable. Our businessmen want to pay taxes but the problem is that our taxation system is very complicated. In this situation, when you are afraid of audits, bank attachment, penalties and surcharges, who will come in the tax net?
He said that we have to simplify our taxation system and aware the people the benefits of coming in the tax net so that our tax base be increased. He said that regulatory on necessary imported raw materials and components, which are not being made in the country, should be eliminated.
“We believe that industrialization is not possible without reducing high production costs”, the LCCI president said and added that current policy rate of 22% is much higher than other regional countries which must be reduced. He said that the SMEs must have easy access to the borrowing.
He said that it is very important to pay attention to the substitution of imports. Reducing imports should be a top priority. He said that the establishment of special investment facilitation council is a good step. He said that we should promote Islamic banking.
Strict measures should be taken at the borders to stop dollar flight. Promotion of trade through barter trade with Iran, Afghanistan and Russia is the need of the hour. All those countries which do not have regular banking channels with Pakistan, we have to start barter trade with them, which can increase our exports immensely.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023