LAHORE: Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Industry, Production and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood has said that Pakistan needs to create 4 million new job opportunities every year for its youth.
“We need to focus on generating employment opportunities for youngsters,” Dawood told business community during his visit to the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Saturday. “We need to create 4 million jobs annually which is the highest ratio around the globe.”
He emphasised that “Made in Pakistan” tag would be promoted and made a buzz word to strengthen the manufacturing sector as it was the only sector which could create jobs for the youngsters.
All efforts would be made to transform the slogan into a reality, he said, adding “until and unless the manufacturing sector and exports are strengthened, economy will not be able to achieve high growth.”
Dawood announced that the release of tax refunds to the industries would start from November this year. “The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman has given me a commitment regarding refunds; Pakistan needs an export-driven growth strategy,” he said.
He highlighted that even the United States could not survive without exports and Malaysia, Thailand and Bangladesh were flourishing through exports. “It is a good omen that exports of Pakistan are improving compared to last year,” he said. “My dream is to take exports back to $25 billion by 2019; we have to promote export culture.”
He stressed that imports were going to be tightened as “we are a country importing too much.”
Dawood was of the view that textile and rice sectors had low hanging fruits and urged the business community to focus on value addition in agriculture instead of just exporting agri-products.
The adviser revealed that he would visit Japan in December with an aim to get duty-free access to the Japanese market.
He informed businessmen that the prime minister would go to China on November 2 and a lot of development on the economic front was expected during the trip.
“I had five meetings with the Chinese ambassador and it is a matter of satisfaction that they are very conscious about the existing trade gap between the two countries,” the adviser said, adding that the envoy was very positive on the issue. He recalled that a Chinese buying delegation visited Pakistan on October 8 and 9.
Dawood pointed out that kinnow production in Pakistan was 360,000 tons but its export was limited because of a high ratio of seeds in the fruit. “To give a boost to kinnow exports, we are contacting China for the production of seedless citrus fruit in Pakistan,” he told the business community. “Engineering, chemicals and information technology sectors should also be focused for exports.”
Speaking on the occasion, LCCI President Almas Hyder stressed that tax refunds of up to Rs10 million should be released immediately as industrialists were running short of capital.
“They have to pay utility bills, salaries of staff and bear various other expenses,” he said. “We talk about just five export-oriented sectors despite the fact that engineering and various other sectors have the potential to give a massive boost to the country’s exports.”
Hyder suggested that these sectors should also be encouraged through relaxation in duties and taxes.
The LCCI president lamented that Pakistan’s products were struggling in the international market as their prices were higher than those of Indian and Chinese goods. “The import of finished goods is cheaper than raw material; this issue demands immediate attention of the government.”
Hyder emphasised that alternative sources of power generation should be promoted to reduce the burden on conventional sources. “We must have long-term investment tools that will also support industrialisation,” he added.
“The agriculture sector needs immediate attention and supportive policies; country can earn huge foreign exchange through value addition in the agriculture sector.”
Published in The Express Tribune, October 14th, 2018.