LAHORE, Aug 20 (APP):Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal said on Saturday that the government was working to reshape economy from import substitutions to export oriented.
In a meeting with the business community here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), he said the only way for development was to enable the private sector and remove all bottlenecks coming in the way, asserting that private sector should take the driving seat to move the economy forward.
Ahsan Iqbal said the private sector should be given opportunities to make Made in Pakistan a standard brand worldwide and increase the national exports.
He said that in 1960s, exports of Pakistan were $ 200 million the combined exports of South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand were the same.
“Today exports of South Korea are over $ 600 billion dollars, Malaysis $ 300 billion
and Thailand’s exports are over 267 billion dollars while we have reached only $ 30 billion during this period”, he said and added that the exports of Turkey had increased from $50 billion in year 2000 to $ 288 billion today.
The federal minister said that all developed countries had made exports-led growth their first priority.
He agreed with LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir that political stability was must for economic development.
He said that the country got a rare opportunity in the shape of CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor). At the time, when no one was ready to invest a single dollar in Pakistan, the Chinese president signed the agreements worth 46 billion dollars.
The federal minister said:” The development budget in 2018 was Rs 1,000 billion but when we came back to power in April 2022, it was reduced to Rs 550 billion”. He said that the local and foreign investors should be encouraged to invest.
He said the country’s tax-to-GDP ratio was only 9.5 per cent whereas it needed at least 18-20 per cent to ensure sustainable development. “We also need to develop entrepreneurship in the country”, he added.
Ahsan Iqbal said:” We need to improve Pakistan’s ranking in world EODB Index”.
He said:” Now Pakistan has 350 universities and more than 3000-km motorways but, unfortunately, our speed of growth is very slow comparatively to the other countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Bangladesh”.
In his welcome address, LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir said that an economic council should be established and all political parties and stakeholders should be included to set a right direction.
He said the income of agriculture sector should be taxed while the government should have currency swap agreements with China, Iran and Russia. He said that the business community should be given representation in the government institutions.
Mian Nauman Kabir said the CPEC had entered into second phase with focus on industrial cooperation, trade, agriculture and socio-economic development.
He hoped that this phase would achieve its objectives of accelerating the socio-economic development all across Pakistan through engagement in various fields
ranging from agricultural growth to expansion of tourism industry and enhancing technical educational and healthcare facilities besides joint ventures between China and Pakistan to counter especially the climate change threat.
He said that a considerable delay had been observed in the completion of Special Economic Zones under the CPEC. It is quite obvious that once the Special Economic Zones under the CPEC are fully operational, they will give rise to the demand of trained manpower.
He said that technology transfer was one aspect of economic development that had always eluded us. The entire globe had witnessed the economic development achieved by China during the last couple of decades. China improved their technological base with their own resources and experts that led them to become very competitive in international market.
The LCCI president said the present situation was all set to engage Chinese and other foreign companies with local firms for ensuring knowledge and technology transfer, especially in the industrial and agro-processing sectors.
He added that exports-led growth held a key to sustainable economic development. “We need to develop the products and services that are being demanded globally. We have been voicing for value addition in all sectors of economy as we cannot fetch good revenues by exporting raw materials and semi-finished goods.”
LCCI Senior Vice President Mian Rahman Aziz Chan said the government was well aware of the country’s economic situation and the solution to these problems, it was necessary to implement a strategy to solve them.
He stressed the need for establishing most modern technical institutes with the help of the USA, citing many countries, have established such institutes and they are getting full benefits from them.
He said that Indus River should be used as a transportation route which will reduce the cost of doing business.
LCCI Vice President Haris Attique said the Ministry of Planning and Development was the most important ministry on which future generations and development of Pakistan depended so they should formulate the policies through mutual cooperation with other ministries.
He said that Lahore was playing an important role by contributing 11 per cent share in national GDP and 18 to 20 per cent share in the country’s exports. He hoped that deliberations of this successful brainstorming session would be fully implemented.