Minister says PM has agreed on uniform energy tariff

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APP04-21 LAHORE: July 21 - Federal Minister for Commerce, Textile, Industries & Production Mian Misbah Ur Rehman presiding over a meeting at LCCI. APP

LAHORE, Jul 21 (APP): Caretaker Federal Minister for Commerce, Industries and Production Mian Misbah-ur-Rehman said Saturday that energy tariff should be uniform throughout the country, and the matter has been taken up with the prime minister, who has agreed to it.
He disclosed this in a meeting with Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) Acting President Khawaja Khawar Rasheed, Vice President Zeshan Khalil, here at the LCCI. DGTO Waqar Shah, Trade Development Authority Pakistan (TDAP) Director General Muhammad Riaz, Mian Muhammad Ashraf, Tariq Hameed, Sheikh Muhammad Asif, Muhammad Ali Mian, Mian Muzaffar Ali, Farooq Iftikhar, Sohail Lashari, Amjad Ali Jawa, Shafqat Saeed Piracha, Abuzar Shad, Kashif Anwar and high ranking government functionaries also spoke on the occasion.
Mian Misbah-ur-Rehman, being a leader of the business community, is well versed with the trade & economic issues and challenges.
He gave a patient hearing during his over two hours meeting with the businessmen.
“I have discussed the issues of costly imported gas and different utility tariffs with the prime minister and he has agreed on uniform utility prices,” the federal commerce minister said and added that low-cost energy would bring down the cost of production. There were number of federal and provincial departments working to finalise reforms in consultation with private sector, he added.
Mian Misbah-ur-Rehman supported the view of LCCI that Chambers and sector-specific associations should be involved in all possible spheres of activities in order to run the affairs effectively.
The caretaker minister said that to diversify the export destination of Pakistan, the Ministry of Commerce had worked a lot. “As soon as the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) gets
operational, we will be able to exploit the trade potential of Central Asian Republics,” he added.
He said that value-addition held key for shrinking the trade deficit, asserting that fresh thinking and keen desire for continuoud improvement coupled with technological advancement needed to be made in order to achieve the set goals.
Mian Misbah-ur-Rehman mentioned that Ministry of Commerce was extensively working on all existing Free Trade Agreements and Preferential Trade Agreements which were due for renewal. Information Technology and other sectors, he said, should also be focused to boost the exports.
Federal Commerce Minister said that public-private partnership had to be promoted at all levels, as it was a proven fact that without satisfying the concerns of the private sector, country could not move ahead successfully on economic fronts.
On this occasion, the LCCI Acting President Khawaja Khawar Rasheed said that export-oriented industry of Pakistan was not able to compete with the regional countries in the international market because of high cost of production. He said, electricity, gas, POL (Petroleum, Oil and Lubricants) and RLNG (Re Liquefied Natural Gas) prices should be brought down to give a considerable relief to the industrial sector.
He was of the view that market and product diversification was a must to boost exports and to reduce the trade deficit, suggesting that country could increase export earnings by promoting information technology. There was also a dire need to focus on value addition as major part of exports was based on raw and semi raw materials instead of finished goods.
“Our exports have been stagnant for the last few years but in fiscal year (July-May) 2018; our exports were 22.78 billion with an increase of 13 percent that is a good sign but still a lot of work has to be done,” he mentioned.
LCCI Acting President said that refunds of billions of rupees were pending with the Federal Board of Revenue which should be released at the earliest.