President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President All Karachi Industrial Alliance (AKIA), Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and former provincial minister, Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday said efforts of Prime Minister Imran Khan to improve the business environment have worked well and the World Bank has improved Pakistan’s ranking from 136th to 108. A jump of 28 spots on the ease of doing business ranking covering 10 countries will improve image, confidence and the investment climate, he said.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that a lot has to be done to improve the economic situation as India has bagged 63rd position while last year it was at 77th notch on the index.
Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that the irritants hampering investment climate include incomprehensible policies, lack of continuity in policies, confusing and regressive taxation system, increasing cost of energy, difficulties in getting different permits, costly credit, and lack of implementation in agreements and a weak dispute resolution system. The former minister noted that central banks and the finance ministry has not done what was expected otherwise Pakistan would have jumped more notches on the index. He noted that key to the improved business climate lies in maximum use of technology reducing interaction among businessmen and tax collectors.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that the World Bank’s report is encouraging but some of the issues are still haunting the business community. Deal with the IMF has stagnated economy and left 1.2 million unemployed while two million youth are entering the job market on annual basis who see no light at the end of the tunnel, he informed. He said that even if the existing growth rate is doubled it will be insufficient to absorb 2 million new workers entering in the market every year.
A reason behind unemployment is a lack on investment as other countries including Vietnam, Bangladesh, India, and Sri Lanka are attracting double investment than Pakistan, he said.
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Mian Zahid demands pace in privatization process
President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President All Karachi Industrial Alliance (AKIA), Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and former provincial minister, Mian Zahid Hussain on Wednesday said a delay in the privatization process will add to the debt and liabilities of the failed companies which will result in a lack of interest by investors.
He said that economic slowdown, reduced social spending, high interest rates will also discourage investors therefore the government should get rid of these white elephants spending trillions of rupees per annum.
Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that the failed institutions have become a national security threat adding to the deficit.
The former minister noted that the government has planned to sell some of the companies but it has also decided to keep all the relevant institutions and regulators on board which will slow down the process while the inclusion of NAB in the process will scare away investors.
He said that sale of steel mill has been delayed and so far a financial advisor could not be appointed which speaks of the interest of the officials concerned.
The stakeholders in the PSM have complained that Ministry of Industries and FBR is not showing any interest in resolving the issue which has pushed up the losses to Rs510 billion while the average loss during the tenure of the incumbent government is Rs2.8 billion per month.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that the steel sector has been hijacked by a mafia involved in smuggling of scrap from Iran and Afghanistan. This mafia is against documentation of steel sector and it is also importing finished products in the garb of scrap which has created problems for local industry.
He said that additional duty should be slapped on steel scrap coming from Iran and Afghanistan or it should be allowed only through sea route to provide relief to the local industry.
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High interest rates pushing industrial sector to grinding halt: Mian Zahid
President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President All Karachi Industrial Alliance (AKIA), Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and former provincial minister, Mian Zahid Hussain on Monday said improved economic activities and any relief to masses is not possible unless fundamental changes are made in some policies including interest rates which has led to the economic slowdown. The World Bank has estimated a growth rate of 2.4 percent for Pakistan in 2020 while is lower than all the regional countries as the growth rate if Afghanistan will be 3 percent, Sri Lanka 3.3 percent, Maldives 5.5 percent, Nepal 6.4 percent, India 6.9 percent while the GDP growth rate of Bangladesh and Bhutan will remain about seven percent.
Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader informed that our growth rate will hover around 3 percent in 2021 while the rest of the regional economies will grow further which means that there will be no relief for the masses and the business community.
The former minister noted that the growth rate may slide below the projections of international institutions due to ongoing political turmoil which is set to increase. He noted that the issue of FATF has also emerged as a threat which is being taken lightly which can prove disastrous for the country if satisfactory progress was not made until the review scheduled in February 2020.
Mian Zahid Hussain noted that economic activities are stagnating and inflation is increasing due to erosion in the exchange rate resulting in unemployment, unrest and agitation while march and sit-in by opposition will add to the miseries of masses and the businessmen.
The government and SBP is taking credit of reduced trade deficit which is at the cost of industry and jobs, he said, adding that millions have lost jobs while more are working on reduced wages as their pay cannot be increased during the uncertain times where survival has become a problem for the industrial sector. The business community had met top officials time and again but what they got in return was only assurances which has disappointed them. The government should revisit the negative implications of IMF conditions which has pushed the country in serious turmoil, he said.