BPM for proactive steps to stabilise economy as uncertainty continues to pervade

Outlines comprehensive economic agenda to steer country towards progress

ISLAMABAD   -   The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI)’s Businessmen Panel (BMP) has stated that political uncertainty has rattled the Pakistan economy, asking the government to take proactive measures to encounter external and domestic challenges, besides stabilising the economy.

In a statement issued here on Sunday, the BMP Chairman and FPCCI former president Mian Anjum Nisar observed that months after the elections that were expected to presage easing of all political uncertainty paving the way for economic stability that all stakeholders and associated media pundits insisted would be a key factor in turning the economy around are having to deal with a major wheat scam that has Punjab farmers protesting on the streets, the acceptance by the State Bank of Pakistan that there were mistakes in the Urdu text on currency notes only after it was pointed out by the ombudsman and one conflict arising from the Punjab police heavy-handedness against the lawyers protest. The wheat scam, in a nutshell, can be traced back to the decision by the caretaker finance minister, no doubt supported by the caretaker prime minister who kept portfolio of National Food Security and Research, to allow the private sector to import wheat at a time when the projected target for the coming season was enough to meet the country’s consumption needs. The decision to import wheat, farmers lament, has disabled the Punjab government from procuring wheat and compelled them to sell at prices way below their costs. Disturbingly, the caretaker finance minister has reportedly refused to appear before the inquiry committee and the caretaker prime minister is defending his government’s decision by insisting that he operated on information available at the time and that by allowing the private sector to import his government was not doling out cash for the purchase. These three instances are independent of any involvement of the opposition and reflect mismanagement at best, outright incompetence at worst. This in the face of ever-rising electricity rates as pledged to the International Monetary Fund in an attempt to attain full cost recovery (instead of improving the management of the sector as is required). It is, therefore, imperative that the government deals with scams by making heads roll, and those who refuse to appear before an inquiry committee as reportedly the caretaker finance minister refused, must face very serious consequences.

Mian Anjum Nisar said that the government should be committed to transforming the economy of the country, as the process of transforming the economy is already underway in the country, acknowledging that structural reforms in every sector takes time. He mentioned that the government will have to take joint action to combat currency smuggling and narrow the difference in dollar rates between official and open markets. It is the fact that the government has undertaken various initiatives for the betterment of the country. The trade deficit narrowed by 3.6 per cent to $1.3 billion, demonstrating positive progress and expressed optimism that the government’s efforts would lead to an expansion in export potential and the export market. The FPCCI former president said that the government would encounter the external and domestic challenges, which are enormous but the government will have to take proactive measures to overcome them. He said that the Pakistan Credit Guarantee Company had been formed for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), emphasising that the companies had to stand on their own feet and should not rely on subsidies.

He stated that a substantial change should introduce to the FBR to enhance its performance with a view to raise the economic growth of this country. He said that the economic managers should diligently work on reforms in the FBR and ensure their implementation. He praised the efforts of the caretaker government and urged consultations with the BMP in the fiscal budget-making process to facilitate the business community. The Businessmen Panel chief outlined a comprehensive economic agenda aimed at steering the country towards progress. He emphasised the critical need for a strategic approach to economic development, calling for concerted efforts from both the govt and political parties.

Turning his attention to the international stage, he highlighted the need for the country to actively engage with the global market. He argued that tapping into international opportunities is key to unlocking the full potential of the economy. Encouraging businesses to explore and expand their presence in global arena, he urged policymakers in upcoming govt to create an enabling environment for int’l trade and investment. Furthermore, he called upon political parties to announce clear and robust economic strategies. He argued that these strategies should not only focus on short-term gains but also encompass a long-term vision for sustained progress. The BMP chairman emphasised that such transparency from political leaders is crucial for instilling confidence in business community and investors.

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