(January 11, 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 that during the first half of current fiscal year July to December 2018, rupee has been devalued by 15 percent but exports have been increased by mere 2 percent in comparison to the same period of previous fiscal year. Imports for the period have been reduced by 16 percent thus the trade deficit is $ 16.8 billion which is 5 percent less than the previous year, however, Pakistan cannot bear such trade deficit, hence government is required to take more corrective and development measures for increasing exports. The remittances have been increased by 10 percent to $ 10.72 billion however, target of $ 11 billion for the first half of current fiscal year missed by 2.5 percent.
The Veteran Business Leader while talking to the business community said that economic problems are faced due to depleting foreign reserves and widen current account deficit which has reached to approx. $ 7 billion as of November 2018 while the foreign reserves stood at $ 13. 59 as of January 4, 2019, not sufficient for import cover of two months’ imports. Pakistan may remain under pressure of foreign debts’ repayment for the coming two years. The FDI took place till November 2018 was just $ 880 million in which China’s share is 89 percent.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that in response to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to friend and brotherly Muslim countries including KSA, UAE, Turkey, Malaysia and China have shown their interest in investment in Pakistan. KSA intended to buy two LNG fire powered projects in Punjab in addition to forming oil Refinery in Gwader. UAE has also shown interest in making Gwader an export hub. Instant increase in foreign direct investment is need of hour for Pakistan which will not only help the local industrial sector to get on its feet but will curb unemployment to a greater extent.
The Former Minister said that the current Govt. seems sincere in addressing the economic issues however the refunds of exporters are still pending. A mechanism for early payment of refunds should be formed, as well as different incentives should be offered to exporters with constant and cheaper supply of gas and electricity to boost exports. Pakistani products should be branded and marketed in modern lines, with providing easy access to international certification, which will draw better results.