LCCI for macroeconomic reforms, policy changes

LAHORE: The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry Monday called for macroeconomic reforms and policy changes in consultation with stakeholders for a sustainable economic recovery.

In a statement issued here after IMF decision that it will not write-off or reschedule Pakistan’s loan, the LCCI President Farooq Iftikhar, Senior Vice President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh and Vice President Mian Abuzar Shad said that the government would have to reorganize the power sector, restructure public sector businesses and reduce trade deficit to overcome economic woes.

The LCCI office-bearers also stressed the need for a mechanism to ensure in letter and spirit implementation of economic policy decisions in the larger interests of the stakeholders. “Since gas and electricity shortage is mother of all economic ills, therefore, a focused attention to stop pilferage and allocate more revenues to overcome circular debt issue is needed. The power sector infrastructure should be upgraded as without doing so there will be little improvement even if major new generation facilities are built. The government-owned power generation companies should be technologically refurbished as it could close the demand-supply gap by 1500 MW.”

On restructuring of public sector businesses, the LCCI office-bearers said that the public sector entities including Pakistan Railways and PIA are incurring a loss of over Rs 600 billion annually, therefore, they should be privatized.

The LCCI office-bearers also suggested to the government to announce incentives for the private sector to give boost to exports and control fast widening trade deficit. “Pakistan’s exports are confined to a few destinations while a major chunk comprises textiles only. Measures are direly needed to enhance export base by including more items and new export destinations.” In 60s the collective exports of a number of Far Eastern Countries were much smaller than Pakistan but today each country has bigger export than Pakistan and they achieved this milestone by giving proper consideration to the proposals of their respective business community.

At a time when the global trade is poised for faster than expected upward growth and climbing out of this painful economic recession by putting people back to work, the situation in Pakistan is heading to point of no return.

The LCCI office-bearers also invited the attention of the government towards the political uncertainty and deteriorating law and order situation in parts of the country. “The LCCI understands that law and order is major cause of decline in local and foreign investment and if the government fails to respond to private sector wakeup call, the economy will continue to suffer with ultimate result of bank defaults and massive layoffs.”

The LCCI office-bearers said that deteriorating law & order situation in Karachi is a matter of grave concern for the entire business community as Karachi is the most important business hub of the country that generates huge revenue with sizeable share in the GDP. If the law and order situation is under control and electricity is made available to the industry round-the-clock, not only the local investors would get an encouragement but foreigners would also be ready to initiate joint ventures with their Pakistani counterparts thus creating more jobs.

Provision of security to the citizens is government’s responsibility but unfortunately it has miserably failed to fulfil its responsibility. It has sent a wrong signal to foreign investors while also caused brain drain and industry drain as a large number of industrial units have shifted their operations to other countries.

The LCCI office-bearers said that the government would have to listen to the business community’s point of view for bringing peace back to this land of opportunities. The countries that were far behind us a few decades ago are now progressing leaps and bound while the economic situation in Pakistan is not satisfactory and this is only because of bad law and order situation.

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