ISLAMABAD - President of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) Muhammad Shakeel Munir has welcomed the IMF’s staff-level agreement with Pakistan and termed it a positive development.

He said that the agreement would pave way for the release of much-awaited over USD 1 billion to Pakistan and improve its foreign exchange reserves. However, he said that the economy of Pakistan was facing problems as its foreign exchange reserves were depleting amid rising external debt servicing, which required some out of the box solutions to address such problems. Addressing a meeting of ICCI Executive Committee, Shakeel said that Pakistan needed urgent help for its external debt-servicing obligations and this situation demanded that the government in consultation with stakeholders should devise a new policy to boost exports in order to improve its foreign reserves.

ICCI president said that the government in consultation with the private sector should formulate a new strategy in order to generate indigenous resources and get rid of IMF loans as the tough conditions of IMF have always pushed up the prices of gas, electricity and POL products, slashed subsidies and tax exemptions and created more difficulties for the business community and the general public.

He said that in its 75 years of existence, Pakistan has gone to the IMF 22 times, which showed that successive governments have failed to make Pakistan stand on its own feet. He said that frequent borrowings from the IMF have piled up a huge foreign debt burden on Pakistan, which is making the future of our generations bleaker and time has come that the policymakers should think seriously about reducing the country’s reliance on foreign loans.

Jamshaid Akhtar Sheikh, Senior Vice President, and Muhammad Faheem Khan, Vice President ICCI, said that the governments of many countries including Turkey, Bangladesh, India and others have got rid of IMF loans by adopting prudent economic policies and it is the high time that the government to make efforts to exploit indigenous resources to stabilize the economy. They surged the government to take measures to promote ease of doing business and focus on creating a conducive business environment to generate more indigenous resources that would enable the country to become self-sufficient instead of relying on foreign borrowing to run its economy.