LAHORE - A meaningful partnership between the government and the private sector is a key to achieve the desired economic goals in shortest possible time.

This was crux of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry president Mian Nauman Kabir’s separate but exclusive meetings with the Federal Minister for Industries and Production Syed Murtaza Mahmud and Federal Commerce Minister Syed Naveed Qamar. The federal ministers shed light on the various initiatives taken by their ministries. The economic and industrial growth, issuance of import documents, exports promotion, conducive environment for the businesses, feasible policies and incentives for the trade and industry came under discussing during the meetings.

Federal Minister for Industries and Production Syed Murtaza Mahmud said that the technological advancement has a great importance in economic growth of any country. He said that the government is focusing on facilitating the local manufacturers to create employment opportunities and exports promotion.

He said that the government wants to take the country forward by ensuring a sustainable economic growth and the role of private sector in this regard is crucial. Syed Murtaza Mahmud said that the Ministry of Industries and Production is also playing a proactive role for swift development of the small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Federal Minister for Commerce Syed Naveed Qamar said that export led growth is the real aim of Pakistan and free trade will be imperative in this regard. He said that the Ministry of Commerce is committed for the promotion of exports by tapping into new markets and to resolve the issues being faced by the business community.

He said that the government is constantly working to connect Pakistan to the global supply value chain to enhance Pakistan’s trade. LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir said that the recent performance of Large Scale Manufacturing Industry which grew by 11.7% in July-May 2021-22, is a good sign and the credit goes to the Ministry of Industries and Production. He said that this performance can become even better if some measures are taken as per the recommendation of private sector.

Mian Nauman Kabir apprised the ministers about the delays by banks in releasing shipping documents and hoped that they will play their role to sort out this issue after consulting with State Bank of Pakistan and The Ministry of Maritime Affairs.

The LCCI president said that there is a need for establishment of Export Processing Zones (EPZs) and Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Lahore. In the present economic scenario, EPZs and SEZs can play a key role in pacing up the process of industrialization and enhancing the exports earnings. LCCI has always advocated for the development of SEZs and EPZs throughout the country, especially for technology intensive industries like engineering goods, pharmaceutical products, surgical instruments and sports goods etc. I think this issue needs a strong follow-up from Ministry.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that the SMEs in Pakistan, particularly in the engineering sector have not been able to contribute adequately in the exports of Pakistan due to limitations in access to Technology. He said that there is a dire need to improve the access to Technology for SMEs.

He said that the access to finance is still a prevalent issue for the SMEs in Pakistan as the SMEs get less than 6% of private sector credit. In the light of the recently introduced SME Policy 2021, the major programs being initiated for improving the access to finance for SMEs, should be shared with the stakeholders.

“It will be great honour for us at LCCI to have better representation in various boards being supervised by the Ministry of Industries like Engineering Development Board, Export Processing Zone Authority, National Productivity Organization, Pakistan Gems & Jewelry Development Company etc”, the LCCI President added.

He said that the cost of land for the business community in the Industrial Estates has reached to exorbitantly high levels. There is need for a simple lease policy through which the land in the existing/new Industrial Estates can be provided at reasonable rates on long term lease, particularly for the SMEs. We would like to hear any recent developments in this regard. Mian Nauman Kabir said that the steep rise in the energy tariff along with the severe load shedding has resulted in closure of many export-oriented industrial units. He recommended that Industrial Estates should be exempted from load-shedding of gas and electricity completely. Furthermore, electricity and gas tariff for the industrial sector need to be reduced considerably in order to enhance the export competitiveness of Industries.

The LCCI President said that the skill development is an area which needs the urgent attention of your Ministry. We recommend that Government should establish Industry-led Skills Councils to help seek the input of private sector in design and management of skill development programs.