Industrialists laud appointment of banker as finance minister

Urge autonomy for technocrats to drive policy reform and stability


GOHAR ALI KHAN March 16, 2024
Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb. PHOTO: COURTESY/HBL

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KARACHI:

Industrialists view the appointment of an experienced banker like Federal Finance and Revenue Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb as a revolutionary step that could soon alleviate the country’s economic woes. They urged the country’s top leadership to allow such technocrats to work independently without interference or hurdles.

In the past, technocrats in the cabinet were not given the autonomy to address challenges effectively, resulting in failures, they said. The industrialists emphasised the need for bold decisions in the country’s best interest to overcome multiple challenges and restore stability.

“If the government succeeds in sincerely and seriously facilitating industry and revamping both health and education sectors, they will win laurels soon and will be on the right track. Until there is some political stability, economic stability cannot come. Political stability can bring about economic stability,” said Hyderabad Chamber of Small Traders and Small Industry (HCSTSI) President Muhammad Farooq Shaikhani.

ReadAurangzeb’s appointment as finance minister a ‘positive step’: Bloomberg

He believes that the finance minister, as a technocrat, can negotiate better terms with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) compared to a politician. Shaikhani notes that people are reluctant to invest in the country due to financial and energy crises, and technocrats like Aurangzeb can devise better economic policies suited to industrialists and business leaders.

“We will have to take austerity measures immediately and cut luxuries of the privileged class—bureaucracy—to save the national kitty from extra burdens of their luxury vehicles and magnificent offices-cum-residences. Pakistan is a beautiful and peaceful country for all businesses,” he added.

Pakistan Business Group (PBG) Chairman and Founder, and former president of the Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI), Farazur Rahman believes that this decision highlights the government’s determination to tackle the country’s economic woes with expertise.

He highlighted that actions in the coming months will shape the trajectory of the country’s financial landscape. Rahman suggests that reducing energy prices will help develop industries like textiles and Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs). To alleviate external debt, he stresses the need to encourage foreign investments and support local industrialists.

Rahman asserted that the national economy cannot emerge from the crisis until the federal finance minister takes immediate steps to lower electricity and gas prices. He believes that if local industries continue to operate, the country’s revenue will also increase.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 16th, 2024.

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