Business leaders have raised concerns about the country’s deteriorating economic situation, urging the government to this time turn to Pakistanis rather than begging the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for aid.
At a joint press conference today, Presidents of 54 Chambers of Commerce from across the country shed light on the issues faced by investors and businesses in the country and how the central bank’s import restrictions are badly impacting overall trade in the country.
Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) President Saqib Rafiq said, “The entire situation is quite troubling. The government does not have time to meet with the business community, and investors are unsure where to invest. It looks like the government is most likely sleeping since containers are arriving at port terminals but not being cleared”.
The RCCI president argued that the government does not have a long-term economic policy and badly needs one to get it out of today’s tailspin. “Can’t political parties agree on a charter of economy soon? The government must listen to us, lest everything gets out of control. In all honesty, the conditions that the country is facing today have never been so bad,” he said.
Rafiq added that the government must take steps for ease of doing business. “If you set up a factory, 35 people come for an inspection. A factory cannot be set up in Karachi because it is harassed. So, if we close our factories, there will be a storm of unemployment. You should remember how the business community fought against COVID and last year supported the government during floods,” he remarked.
Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Kashif Anwar stated, “Political stability is essential for economic stability. Having said that, we will go towards election only if the Government and the Opposition sign a charter of the economy”.
The LCCI chief suggested that instead of going to the IMF for money, the government should simply ask Pakistanis for help. He also advocated for the declaration of undisclosed financial assets and immovable properties, as well as a clear explanation to the IMF of the severity of the country’s economic hardships.
Other business leaders put more emphasis on thousands of containers stranded at terminals and sought urgent facilitation in this regard. Demurrage charges on the ports from Faisalabad were $800 million, according to Dr. Khurram Tariq, the President of the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI).
On the issue of Letters of Credit (LCs), the RCCI president said banks don’t have US dollars and that’s why LCs are not being opened.