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Bureau Report

Dawn Islamabad

Published Date: Oct 21, 2017

Experts call for joint ‘charter of economy’ to tackle issues

PESHAWAR: Khyber Pakhtunkhwa must frame a joint charter of economy advocating the federal government to frame specialised policies for promotion of manufacturing, trade and investment sectors, which have suffered due to insecurity and instability over the last decade.
This was agreed at a high-level meeting of politicians, legislators and businesspersons held under the aegis of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with the Centre for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) here at a local hotel on Friday.
The participants highlighted solutions to the issues being faced by the country’s economy. Senator Noman Wazir of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf said that the federal government’s claims of economic turnaround were misleading. He urged the government to set its growth target at 11 per cent, as the growth rate of 4.7 per cent recorded in the previous fiscal year was insufficient to cater to the growing population.
He said that export sectors of the economy had been badly hit by the rising cost of utilities and poorly planned investment policies. He expressed concern that the country would be unable to service its foreign debts in the context of prevalent macroeconomic frailties.
Stakeholders asked to protect KP’s interests at the federal level
Bushra Gohar of Awami National Party urged all the stakeholders to take notice of the internal and regional security environment in their economic analysis, especially in the context of KP whose economy had suffered greatly due to instability and worsening relations with Afghanistan. She expressed concern over the 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.
Faisal Karim Kundi of PPP supported the call for drawing up a joint charter of economy to ensure continuity in the country’s economic policies and direction. Calling for greater attention to agricultural sector, he called for helping farmers to use the latest agricultural techniques and technologies. He highlighted the problem of electricity shortages, especially in KP’s rural areas, which had severely impacted the growth of agriculture and small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
Professor Ibrahim of JI emphasised the need for ensuring full implementation of the 18th amendment in the allocation of resources to the provinces. He expressed concern over the fall in direct taxes and rise in indirect taxes under Pakistan’s current fiscal regime. He called for the passage of conflict-of-interest legislation to ensure that parliamentarians did not use their positions for private benefit.
Ghulam Ali of JUI-F said that local businesses were being burdened by multiple taxes and other constraints that had increased the cost-of-doing business. He called on the local businesspersons and chambers of commerce to ensure that the province’s interests were safeguarded in policymaking at the federal level.
Zahidullah Shinwari, KPCCI president, 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.
Earlier in the meeting, Dr Vaqar Ahmed, deputy executive director at SDPI, outlined the economic reform priorities.