Published Date: Oct 21, 2017
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province must frame a joint charter of economy advocating the federal government to frame specialized policies for promotion of manufacturing, trade and investment, was said in a meeting of politicians, legislators and business persons held by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with the Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE).
During the meeting, participating legislators and politicians highlighted solutions to the issues and challenges faced by Pakistan’s economy. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senator Nauman Wazir was of the view that the federal government’s claims of an economic turnaround were misleading. He urged the government to set its growth targets closer to 11%, as the growth rate of 4.7% recorded in the previous fiscal year was insufficient to cater to the country’s growing population.
He explained the exporting sectors of the economy had been badly hit by the rising cost of utilities and poorly thought out investment policies. He also expressed concerns that the country would be unable to service its foreign debts in the context of prevalent macroeconomic frailties. Awami National Party (ANP) Central Vice President Bushra Gohar said the economic issues needed to be discussed more frequently and in greater depth at the political level.
She urged all relevant stakeholders to take greater notice of the prevalent internal and regional security environment within their economic analyses, especially in the context of KP, whose economy had suffered greatly due to instability and worsening relations with Afghanistan.
While discussing Pakistan’s overall economic performance, she expressed concerns over policymakers’ preference for short-term fixes to long-standing structural issues, such as low tax-to-GDP ratio, low levels of investment and regional trade, and persistent trade and fiscal deficits. She also stressed the need to bring development issues at par with debt re-servicing and defence in the budget-making process.
Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians (PPP-P) Provincial General Secretary Faisal Karim Kundi supported the call to draw up a joint charter of economy to ensure consistency and continuity in the country’s economic policies and direction. He highlighted the problem of electricity shortages, especially in KP’s rural areas, which had severely impacted the growth of agriculture and local small & medium enterprises (SMEs). Stressing the importance of trade with Afghanistan in the context of KP’s economy, he also called for an end to repeated and arbitrary closures of the Pak-Afghan border.
Professor Ibrahim of the Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan emphasized the need to ensure implementation of the 18th amendment in allocation of resources between the provinces Stressing the importance of promoting business for growth of the economy, Ghulam Ali of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) felt that local businesses were being burdened by multiple taxes and other constraints that had increased the cost of doing business. He also called on local business persons and chambers of commerce to reach across party lines and ensure the province’s interests were being safeguarded in policymaking at federal level.
Highlighting the economic impact of the prevalent law and order environment, representatives of KP’s business community lamented how the province had been lagging behind other parts of the country. KP Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KPCCI) President Zahid Ullah Shinwari called for preferential trade and investment policies to level the playing field with more prosperous provinces.
He also called for lowering of corporate tax rates to discourage tax avoidance and effective implementation of the Fiscal Responsibility and Debt Limitation Act 2005 to keep the country’s rising foreign debt in check. KPCCI former president Haji Afzal called on the federal government to facilitate local investors along the same lines as foreign investors. He also called for a lifting of the moratorium on new utility connections, which discouraged investment in the industrial sector. Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) former vice president Adnan Jalil questioned role of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) in KP and called for performance assessment of Pakistan’s trade attaches in different countries.