Islamabad: Terrorism and acute energy crisis have emerged as the biggest challenges of Pakistan that have crippled the national economy and all political parties should develop a national agenda through consensus to address these burning issues to bring peace and turn around the economy.
This was stated by Mr. Zafar Bakhtawari, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry while congratulating Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Murtaza Javed Abbasi for being elected as the National Assembly Speaker and Deputy Speaker respectively by a two-third majority. He hoped that they would set new precedents of good parliamentary traditions to strengthen the democracy in the country.
Mr. Bakhtawari lauded the move of PPP for withdrawing its candidates from the race of Speaker and Deputy Speaker which was a wise move to develop political consensus. He said the country was facing some of the big challenges like rising fiscal deficit, circular debt and hefty decline in investment.
He said the ruling party alone cannot tackle all these problems without political stability and support of other political parties.
He said foreign direct investment in Pakistan’s power sector has witnessed a big decline of 87.1 percent to $708 million in 2012 from $5.475 billion in 2008 mainly due to terrorism and law & order problems. Similarly, the circular debt has swelled to more than Rs.872 billion in 2013 while it was around Rs. 162 billion in 2008.
Moreover, the country suffered a huge amount of Rs.1.5 trillion as subsidy in power sector during the last five years. This state of affairs demands that all political parties should join hands and develop a national agenda basis to overcome these problems.
Mr. Bakhtawari urged that the new government should take war footing measures to resolve circular debt and go for targeted subsidy. He said India and China were producing about 60 percent energy through coal while share of coal in our energy mix was less than one percent.
He welcomed the statement of Mian Nawaz Sharif to visit Thar Coal Authority on assuming charge as Prime Minister of Pakistan and stressed that new government should focus on cheap energy sources including coal, hydro, solar and wind to bring down the exorbitant cost of energy.
ICCI President was of the view that energy generation at affordable cost would create multiple benefits for the economy as it would attract more investment, promote new businesses, reduce unemployment and enhance exports by making our products more competitive in the international market.
He hoped that the government of Mian Nawaz Sharif would give a serious consideration to these proposals to lift the economy out of troubled waters and put in on the path of sustainable growth.