Urgent action needed to get country out of the woods: business leaders – Pakistan


KARACHI: Chairman of National Business Group Pakistan and Chairman of Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum Mian Zahid Hussain has expressed concern that the rupee is constantly weakening, the dollar is becoming more expensive, imports are increasing and growing current account and budget deficits, which must be addressed otherwise Pakistan will soon be bankrupt like Sri Lanka.

He said duties on at least a dozen sectors should be increased by 200-300% to reduce the import bill. He was of the view that the weak economy could no longer afford the shocks of aggressive policy. Rapidly deteriorating economic conditions and rising political temperatures are the “perfect combination” to bankrupt the country.

He said economic instability and uncertainty in the country were compounded by delays in decision-making as well as conflicting statements made by key leaders. While the situation in the country is worrying, the war between Russia and Ukraine has led to inflation, agricultural shortages and global unrest, he said.

The new government has yet to come up with a clear economic strategy and how it intends to deal with the evolving situation, he said.

Ordinary people as well as members of the business community had breathed a sigh of relief when the current government came to power as they expected the economic situation to improve, but their optimism has now given way to despair.

Mian Zahid said friendly countries had only given assurances to the government, after which he had no choice but to approach the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a loan.

He noted that inflation is already high at 13% and will rise further if IMF conditions are imposed. It will tarnish the government’s reputation, but there is no other way to cover the deficits. If the bitter pill of IMF conditions is not swallowed, the economy will be destroyed within months, he said.

He said the current government is well aware of the poor state of the economy, the economic landmines laid by its predecessor and the precarious economic situation in general. So, if he hasn’t had the courage to make tough decisions in the national interest, what’s the point of taking power?

The country is entering an almost impossible situation. It has probably never seen such weak political and economic conditions since its inception, said economic and financial analyst Ateeq-ur-Rehman.

To deal with such circumstances, not only the government but also the masses will have to participate in a certain voluntary restraint. “In fact, we must build a consumer society, otherwise no one on Earth can save us from a crippling defect.”

On the international market, the price of palm oil reached $1,800, he said. This involves reducing our consumption of palm oil to save our currencies.

“Brent has reached $110-115, so we absolutely must reduce our oil consumption to save our economy from the growing balance of payments crisis.

“Furthermore, we need to regulate our uncontrolled movements; last month alone, we bought about $400 million in travel tickets and spent about $750 million more on travel and related services, boarding and shopping, and more.

“We cannot afford it in the current economic situation… The importation of luxury items including cars, mobile phones, food and confectionery continues,” he said. he declares.

“This is a very serious matter; if we do not immediately impose restrictions on the import of these luxury items, there is a chance of landing in turbulent economic conditions – the trade deficit, the current account deficit and the balance of payments crisis will continue to increase.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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