After macroeconomic stability: Time to take on other challenges, says Bajwa

PBC Board member says body working on recommendations for govt

Farhan Zaheer November 07, 2015
PBC Board member says body working on recommendations for govt. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: Pakistan has done quite well for itself the last year by improving macroeconomic stability, but it’s time to move on and take on other challenges facing the economy, said Pakistan Business Council (PBC) Board Member Atif Bajwa.

“The confidence of the private sector has also improved because of the successes the government has made on the fronts of macroeconomic stability and security,” said Bajwa, who is also the President and CEO of Bank Alfalah.

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Pakistan Business Council (PBC) is a business policy advocacy forum representing private-sector businesses that have substantial investments in the economy. It sponsors the Pakistan Economic Forum (PEF), a biennial gathering where experts present comprehensive reports on Pakistan’s critical problems and suggest solutions.

The upcoming PEF 2015 event would be based on comprehensive reports on energy, logistics and connectivity, macroeconomic stability and growth, and water.

“PEF reports are very useful for the government to formulate new policies. Our work is being recognised at different platforms and now people look forward to our reports,” Bajwa commented on the utility of PEF reports, in an interview with The Express Tribune.

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This would be the third time the PEF will present its reports; the first one came in 2011 and second in mid April 2013 - just before PML-N came to power. It will be interesting to see how much this report influences the government policies in its remaining tenure of over two years.

With significant improvement in the security situation in the past one year or so, the biggest challenge for the government is to tackle the energy crisis.

“The government will give a rosy picture that problems would be resolved once all the under-construction projects come online. Even with the best of intentions, this is quite simplistic,” he said when asked about government claims to end the energy crisis by 2018.

With fast growing electricity demand, it is a big challenge for the government to reduce the present demand and supply gap in the sector. Moreover, the rising cost of electricity and mismanagement are other great challenges,” he added.

Speaking about the global economy, he said there were certain things that were not under the control of the government. For instance, he said, the world commodity prices were at a record low and most countries were grappling with slow economic growth.

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“Due to slow economic growth in the export markets of Pakistan, our exports especially textile, have taken a hit; the government has little control over all these developments,” he said.

However, he stressed on not waiting for things to change and focusing instead on value-addition, “It’s time to prepare ourselves for the future.”

Linking security challenges with China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Bajwa was of the view that security was a key requirement of CPEC and very important for Pakistan to attract new investments.

“Chinese companies are here working on different projects. The developments are noticeable in the energy sector.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 8th, 2015.

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