PML-N leader visits LCCI n Says Shehbaz was ready to step down but we decided to take stand to avert country’s default n British High Commissioner calls on Nawaz Sharif in Lahore.
LAHORE - Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) supremo Mian Nawaz Sharif Thursday unveiled his party’s economic policy to the business community, emphasising his belief in the liberalisation of the economy, privatisation, and the unrestricted movement of the dollar both to and within the country.
Addressing the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) here, Mian Nawaz Sharif stated that individuals looking to invest in the industrial sector should not face inquiries regarding the origin of their funds. Furthermore, he hinted at the possibility of lowering the policy rate if he were to regain power, expressing concern about the challenges of conducting business when the policy rate is as high as 22 percent.
Nawaz Sharif told the business community that during his earlier tenure, his government initiated the privatization and liberalization of the economy. He expressed his endorsement of economic liberalization, recalling a pivotal moment when the decision to allow an unrestricted flow of dollars into and out of Pakistan faced skepticism from the bureaucracy. Despite concerns that the national reserves would deplete rapidly, the government stood resolute in its decision, and as a result, the national treasury was enriched with dollars, he added.
Nawaz asserted that India achieved economic success by adopting Pakistan’s policies. Reflecting on his prime ministerial term from 2013- 2017, Nawaz noted that Pakistan was ranked as the 24th best economy during that period, controlling the dollar for four years at Rs 104. He claimed that if their development model and policies had continued, the dollar would have been at Rs 40 or 50.
He also highlighted the significance of Pakistan being seen as a protector by Islamic countries after the nuclear test in 1998. However, Nawaz expressed concern over the current situation, stating that the country is now reliant on others for $1 billion, attributing the challenges to decisions made by state. He pointed out that during his tenure, the policy rate was at 6.5 per cent as against the current rate of 22 per cent. He questioned the feasibility of doing business in such an environment. Nawaz criticised the impact of decisions on Parliament, prime ministers, and the overall system, emphasising the need for a more prudent approach.
He acknowledged the economic challenges facing the country and assured the business community that his party would continue to seek their advice, as they had done in previous government tenures. Nawaz Sharif emphasised that the PML-N comprehends Pakistan’s economic challenges. He highlighted his commitment to consultation, stating, “I have consistently sought your input; Nawaz Sharif will proceed only through consultation. The business community in Pakistan has followed our policies,” he asserted. He emphasized the responsibility to alleviate inflation and poverty, asserting, “ It is our duty to free the people from inflation and poverty.” Addressing the demand for development, education, and health, he affirmed, “If the people demand these facilities, it is their right, and the state has a responsibility to provide them.” Expressing regret for the current economic challenges, Nawaz Sharif attributed them to past decisions, stating, “We have hit this ax on our own feet.” He lamented the escalation in electricity bills and the fivefold increase in prices, emphasizing the dire situation faced by the rupee and the entire economic system.
Nawaz Sharif took pride in past accomplishments, including the removal of Pakistan from the gray list in 2013 and the completion of the IMF program. Despite initial reluctance to return to government in 2022, he underscored the necessity to save Pakistan from default. Commending Shehbaz Sharif’s leadership, Nawaz Sharif acknowledged his role in saving Pakistan from default and making difficult decisions in the national interest.
Reflecting on his own government’s achievements, he noted a decrease in inflation, growth rates exceeding 6 percent, and policies that contributed to the Stock Market Index’s significant rise. Nawaz Sharif credited his government with doubling tax collections, increasing the PSDP size, and maintaining the exchange rate at Rs 104. He highlighted the substantial growth in credit for the private sector, agricultural loans, and the reduction of the budget deficit despite increased expenditures on security operations. Finally, Nawaz Sharif recalled ending load shedding, adding 11,000 MW to the national grid, bidding farewell to the IMF, and initiating projects such as CPEC and hydropower developments. Also, Nawaz Sharif said 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 “we decided to move forward fearlessly for the interest of Pakistan. He said that LCCI was playing a commendable role to solve the problems of the businessmen. He said, “If we want to progress, then the voice of Lahore Chamber and the business community must be heard. Nawaz Sharif said that in 2013, Pakistan was also removed from the grey list. He said, “If Almighty 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 “we decided to move forward fearlessly for the interest of Pakistan.” Nawaz Sharif said that Pakistan was made peaceful, Zarbi- Azb and Raddul-Fasaad operations were carried out and added that for the first time in the history of Pakistan, the PML-N government completed the IMF programme. “We brought the CPEC, we made plans to extract Thar coal and then generated electricity from it,” he added. He thanked the existing and former LCCI office-bearers of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Former Prime Minister Muhammad 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.