Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Ahsan Iqbal has stressed that private sector should take the driving seat to move Pakistan forward.
“The only way for development is to enable the private sector and remove all the bottlenecks coming in the way,” he said.
The minister made the remarks while meeting members of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) during his visit to the chamber.
Iqbal said that the private sector should be given opportunities to make “Made in Pakistan” a standard brand across the world and increase exports.
He pointed out that in the 1960s exports of Pakistan were $200 million while the combined exports of South Korea, Malaysia and Thailand stood at the same level. “Today, exports of South Korea are over $600 billion, Malaysia’s exports at $300 billion and Thailand’s exports at over $267 billion while we have reached only $30 billion during this period.”
Similarly, exports of Turkey have increased from $50 billion in 2000 to $288 billion. “All developed countries have made export-led growth their first priority,” Iqbal remarked. He agreed with LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir that political stability was a must for economic development.
The country got a rare opportunity in the shape of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). At a time, when nobody was ready to invest a single dollar in Pakistan, the Chinese president signed agreements worth $46 billion.
The minister said that the development budget in 2018 was Rs1,000 billion but “when we came back to power in April 2022, it had been reduced to Rs550 billion”. He called for encouraging domestic and foreign investors to invest in Pakistan.
“Our tax-to-GDP ratio is only 9.5% whereas we need to reach at least 18-20% to ensure sustainable development. We also need to develop entrepreneurship and we need to improve Pakistan’s ranking in the World Bank’s EODB Index.”
The minister pointed out that now Pakistan had 350 universities and more than 3,000 km of motorways but unfortunately the speed of growth was very slow compared to other countries.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 21st, 2022.
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