ISLAMABAD ( Web News )
Former Governor Punjab Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar said that he had played an active role in getting the GSP plus scheme from the European Union for Pakistan and he is still working hard to get an extension of this scheme for Pakistan. He said that Pakistan will hopefully get the EU GSP Plus facility for the next ten years. However, he said that Bangladesh has increased its exports by five times with the GSP plus scheme of the EU, while Pakistan could not take full advantage of this facility. He emphasized that the business community sector should try to take full advantage of this facility in order to enhance exports to EU countries. He said this while addressing the business community during his visit to Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI).
Ch. Muhammad Sarwar said that exports and remittances combined have brought around USD 300 billion to Pakistan in the last five years, but even today we are forced to accept every condition of the IMF for just USD 2 billion, which is the outcome of our inappropriate strategy. He said that the business community has a key role in the development of the economy as it creates jobs, promotes wealth creation and boosts tax revenue of the country. However about 20 departments are in pursuit of the business community due to which doing business in Pakistan is a difficult task. He said that many overseas Pakistanis have achieved great progress in various fields and if they are given better incentives and better protection in Pakistan, many of them are keen to invest in their home country. He said that if the government gives better incentives to overseas Pakistani pensioners, they can bring millions of dollars into the country. He said that the pensioners of the developed world want to live in cheap countries in their old age and Pakistan can take advantage of this situation. He said that if the country’s 20 largest business groups are taken into confidence, they can help to pay off Pakistan’s debt. He further said that the real estate sector has the potential to discharge all the debt of Pakistan, but they need to be taken into confidence in this regard. He also showed concerns over the loss-making SOEs including PIA, Pakistan Steel Mills, Railways, DISCOS and circular debt of electricity and gas companies. He said that without solving these problems, the recovery of the economy is a difficult task. He said that his party has made plans in its manifesto to address all these problems besides envisaging task forces to bring reforms in all sectors of the economy. He said that he has always cooperated with the business community and will continue to do so in future as well.
Speaking on the occasion, Ahsan Zafar Bakhtawari, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that all political parties should agree on a charter of economy to steer the country out of the current crisis and added that Chaudhry Muhammad Sarwar can play his role in this regard. He said that seats should be reserved for the business community in the parliament so that the interests of the business class and investors can be better protected in the legislative process, which will improve our economy. He hoped that the political parties will include this issue in their manifesto, which will ensure better promotion to the business interests of Pakistan.
Faad Waheed, Senior Vice President ICCI said that timely financial decisions are very important for the business community as delay in them disturbs business plans. He called for immediate reforms in loss-making SOEs. He was of the view that sidelining the business community has derailed Pakistan.
Engr. Muhammad Azharul Isalam Zafar, Vice President ICCI said that the construction industry has an important role in the economic revival of the country, but this industry is facing multiple problems due to lack of attention from the government.
Zafar Bakhtavari, former President ICCI said that the government spends about Rs.1000 billion annually on loss-making SOEs, which increases the government’s deficit. He said that the government should hand over loss-making SOEs to a few big business groups on the condition that if they clear all the debt of Pakistan in ten years, then these SOEs will be transferred to them.
Mian Shaukat Masood former President ICCI, Ch. Muhammad Ali, Ch. Javed Iqbal, Sheikh Ejaz, Khalid Chaudhry, and others also highlighted various problems of the business community and gave useful proposals to revive the economy.