Karachi industrialists hail govt’s step to formulate three-year economic policy

April 16, 2024

Ahmed Khan Malik

Karachi industrialists have welcomed the announcement by federal finance minister Muhammad Aurangzeb of formulating a three-year economic policy to ensure ‘sustainable and inclusive economic growth’. Johar Qandhari, President of Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI), said the business community had long advocated for the formation of a comprehensive economic strategy to attract investment in the country. Talking to WealthPK, Johar emphasised the importance of carrying out reforms in the Federal Board of Revenue, expanding the tax net, and fostering industrial growth to propel Pakistan towards rapid development. He stressed the need to reduce the cost of production to enhance the competitiveness of Pakistani products on the global market. He also urged the government to alleviate the tax burden on existing taxpayers by incorporating tax defaulters into the tax net.

The KATI president highlighted the adverse effects of the highest-ever interest rates in Pakistan, and underscored the urgency of reducing the rates to stimulate economic growth and investment. Johar expressed hope that the finance minister would consult all the stakeholders to present a budget that addresses industry concerns and sets Pakistan on the path to economic recovery and development. He reaffirmed KATI's commitment to supporting government initiatives aimed at fostering a conducive business environment and driving sustainable growth. Sheikh Umer Rehan, Special Assistant to the President of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), also hailed the finance minister’s announcement. However, he called for formulating a comprehensive 10-year policy aimed at ramping up the local production of edible oils, including palm oil.

Highlighting the significance of achieving self-sufficiency in edible oil production, Rehan stressed the need for urgent measures to address the looming challenges facing the sector. He said Pakistan's significant reliance on edible oil imports, which constitute a major portion of the country's total imports, underscores the importance of enhancing domestic production capacity. He expressed concern over the projected doubling of the import bill for edible oil commodities in the coming years, warning that such a trend could strain foreign exchange reserves and exacerbate economic pressures. Rehan pointed out that the coastal regions of Sindh and Balochistan possessed favourable conditions for cultivating palm, mustard and sunflower, citing successful experiments conducted by the government yielding promising results.

He underscored the potential of leveraging these regions to meet local demand and reduce dependency on imports. However, he emphasised the crucial role of government support and collaboration with the private sector in realising this objective. Furthermore, Rehan emphasised that augmenting domestic edible oil production would not only contribute to conserving foreign exchange reserves but also cater to the escalating domestic demand for edible oils. He called for concerted efforts from both public and private stakeholders to capitalise on the untapped potential of the edible oil sector and drive sustainable economic growth.

Credit: INP-WealthPk