Businessmen have called on the government to take urgent measures for fixing the economy as the major economic indicators are not showing encouraging trends due to which investors can lose interest in the economy.
They pointed out that the benchmark KSE-100 index of Pakistan Stock Exchange shed 1,447 points in a day while the US dollar continued its flight towards record levels against the Pakistani rupee.
In the meantime, Pakistan’s trade deficit crossed $39 billion in the first 10 months of current fiscal year, as the pace of imports was twice the growth in exports, which should be a cause of concern for the policymakers.
“Trade deficit has already reached alarming levels and is poised to touch $50 billion by the end of this fiscal year, which will plunge the economy in deep trouble,” remarked Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) President Muhammad Shakeel Munir in a statement.
He said that the recent monthly economic update and outlook of the Ministry of Finance acknowledged that the inflationary and external sector risks were adding to the macroeconomic imbalances, which showed that the economy would face more problems in the coming days.
“The State Bank has adopted a contractionary monetary policy by increasing the policy rate; it will further slow economic growth in the country,” he pointed out.
Munir stressed that the government should ensure easy access to finance to the small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and create an enabling environment to help them become competitive in the regional and international markets.
As the industrial sector was importing many products including raw material and intermediate goods to meet its manufacturing needs, the ICCI chief emphasised that the government should encourage import substitution. “This will help reduce the import bill and bring down the trade deficit.”
ICCI Senior Vice President Jamshaid Akhtar Sheikh and Vice President Muhammad Faheem Khan said that the Ministry of Commerce and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan should facilitate the private sector in exploring all potential export markets including Africa, Central Asia and others to give a boost to exports.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2022.
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