Budget deficit jumping to unsustainable levels. Gap between income and expenditure should be reduced. Interest rates cut, relief to SME and export sector needed.

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(August 30, 2019)

President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President All Karachi Industrial Alliance (AKIA), Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and former provincial minister, Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday said economic activities are stagnant, industrial units are being closed, unemployment is rising while GDP has contracted from 5.8 percent to 2.7 percent which may slide further. Inflation is also rising at a rapid pace therefore interest rates should be reduced while steps should be taken to revive ailing SME and export sector, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that business community is pinning high hopes on the recent meeting between the Prime Minister Imran Khan and Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan and they are positive about some remedial measures and relief.

Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that despite best efforts by the government the economy could not be improved calling for urgent intervention.

The former minister noted that tax collection could not be improved while the gap between income and expenditure could not be bridged. Similarly, the difference between imports and exports remained high which is very damaging to the economy.

He noted that large scale manufacturing contracted by 3.6 percent, highest in a decade while serious efforts were not initiated to tame circular debt which has surpassed one trillion rupees. He said that budget deficit jumped to Rs 3.44 trillion or 8.9 percent of the GDP which is highest in the last 28 years. The budget deficit during 2017-18 was Rs 22 billion which was 6.6 percent of the GDP.

The government could not reduce expenditures despite claims and missed the deficit target by 82 percent or Rs 1.5 trillion, he said, adding that reduction of Rs 4 billion in developmental expenditure and tax measures failed to bring any positive change, therefore, the government should consider allaying reservations of the business community and provide them some relief so that they can play their due role in national development.

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