LAHORE - Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Wednesday welcomed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s decision to constitute the National Economic Council (NEC) in a bid to deal with the financial crisis.

In a letter to Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir said that the constitution of National Economic Council is a step in a right direction but the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry should also be taken on board in NEC.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry highly appreciates the formation of National Economic Council envisioned by the Prime Minister. He said that this would be a great platform and certainly play a pivotal role in uplifting the trajectory of national economic development.

The LCCI president suggested that National Economic Council should make long term policies/plans for at least 10 years, be given a legal cover and an implementation mechanism should also be developed. He said that an international trade framework should be established to monitor the imports and exports of the country and ensure that they complement each other.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that there is a dire need to revisit Pakistan’s energy mix by generating major part of electricity from coal and renewable energy sources so that the reliance on costly imported fuel may be minimized. He said that the business/trade policies should be chalked out in such a manner that they provide an enabling environment to the local industry to become part of the global value chain. Mian Nauman Kabir further stated said that Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif took the charge at a critical time along with a bundle of economic challenges.

He said that only economically strong Pakistan can handle all sorts of international pressures therefore “war against economic ills” should be started instantly and the business community should be given representation in the economic teams. The LCCI president said that Pakistan is a resource-rich country and does not need any external financial help. He said that economic weaknesses of any country give opportunity of criticism to the others and same is being happened in our case. Mian Nauman Kabir said that political instability, below the mark foreign direct investment, high cost of doing business, politics on mega projects like Kalabagh dam and huge trade deficit have led to stagnant growth in Pakistan. He said that Pakistan must have to address these issues through good economic reforms. He said that Pakistan has all resources to become an economic giant but only need is to set directions with zeal, courage and sincerity.

Pakistani missions abroad should be given task to find out new destinations for Pakistani products

Mian Nauman Kabir said that Pakistan’s huge mineral resources can help get rid of the economic ills. He said that country has one of the largest reserves of gold & copper and coal in the world. He added that according to a rough estimate, value of coal reserves in Pakistan is 187 times more than the GDP of Pakistan and only 2% of Pakistani coal reserves can generate 20,000 MW of electricity for almost 50 years. In addition to gold, copper and coal, the country has vast reserves of precious stones, gypsum, salt and marble but instead of taking full advantage of these God-gifted resources most of the share being exported in raw form. He said that these resources must be used by the state instead of giving contracts to the foreign companies for extraction. He also called for new technologies and training of human resources for the mining sectors.

The LCCI president said that most of Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs) are strangling the national exchequer by eating up around Rs.600 billion annually. Wastage of this hard-earned money of the taxpayers is a sheer injustice. He said that these PSEs should be turned into profitable by strict reforms. He said that market and products diversification is the best method to boost the exports. He said that Pakistani exports always remained dependent on a few items and countries. United States, China, Afghanistan, United Kingdom and Germany are top five trading partners of Pakistan while various lucrative destinations are still untouched. He said that Pakistani missions abroad should be given task to find out new destinations for Pakistani products. Government should also facilitate export-oriented industries by resolving their genuine issues like delay in refunds etc.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that tourism industry is one of the largest industries. This sector of Pakistan is not working as good as it should be. He said that Pakistan needs to market itself as a tourism destination as it is endowed with beautiful landscapes, sceneries, historical heritage and other attractive places for international tourists. He said that tourism industry of Pakistan has the potential to turn Pakistan into a hub of economic activities and can give revenue of billions of dollars to the national exchequer.