With expectations from a potential Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) provincial government high, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s (K-P) business community is keeping a close watch on how the new regime plans to revive the war-affected provincial economy.
Businessmen believe the new government must take tough decisions to recover declining industries. They also believe load-shedding must be addressed. Continuous power outages across the province have caused half of the industrial units to shut down, with the other half being termed ‘sick’ as they only function partially.
Former K-P Chamber of Commerce & Industries president Sharafat Ali Mubarik told The Express Tribune the key is to adopt a policy with proper planning.
Mentioning the economic hardships faced by people in the province, he said banks have declared K-P a ‘red-zone’ as far as investment is concerned with increases in mark-up on loans and the hesitation in lending restricting economic activity. “The increase of Chinese goods in our markets and the inability of our industries to compete have compounded existing problems,” Mubarik said, adding the smuggling of foreign goods into the country must also be checked.
“The products produced in our industrial units cannot compete with items produced in other provinces, let alone other countries, which is why dozens of our industries died,” he claimed, adding several industries must be rebuilt from scratch because the deteriorating security situation has destroyed everything.
“There is a need to set a minimum wage for labourers and dealing with trade unions to produce skilled labour also needs to be discussed. This will take a long time to fix.”
Mubarik further said industries needed to diversify their product portfolio to compete with foreign goods, while existing infrastructure needs improvement.
Women Business Development Centre’s Nabeela Safdar said the new government had promised to encourage women, minorities and other neglected segments of society to be treated equally.
All-K-P Traders Association Secretary Shaukat Ali Khan has pinned his hopes on the federal government because the expected chief executive is a seasoned businessman. Referring to Nawaz Sharif, Shaukat claimed he abolished several unnecessary taxes imposed on traders and industrialists during his previous tenure as prime minister.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 19th, 2013.