Agriculture sector posing a serious threat to the economy. Cotton failure will trigger imports worth billions of dollars. Banks have no option but to finance private sector.

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(November 11, 2020)

Chairman of National Business Group of FPCCI, President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and former provincial minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Wednesday said the agriculture sector is performing poorly to emerge as a threat to the economy.

The economy was already under pressure due to circular debt, coronavirus, reduced demand in the international market, FATF, and political struggle and now the failure of cotton crop has added to the worries, he said.

Mian Zahid Hussain said that current account surplus and strengthening rupee has reduced loans and now the government is not as much dependent on loans as earlier leaving banks with little option but to finance the private sector and housing which will trigger growth.

Low-interest rate environment and soft loans have also played their role in the economic activity for which credit goes to the SBP.

However, he said that the agriculture sector is not performing well which is a threat to other performing sectors. Cotton crop has failed while hoarding, profiteering, absence of price control and smuggling continues unabated which should be stopped.

He noted that the wheat target has been fixed at 26.78 million tonnes but the war of words among centre and provinces on flour crisis, disagreement on wheat support price, substandard seed and pesticides, high cost of fertilizer and energy prices can hit the target.

The business leader noted that cotton output has been reduced by 43 percent to 8.44 million bales while independent sources see output at 6 million bales. The textiles sector needs 14 to 15 million bales. The gap will be filled through imports worth billions of dollars which will add to the deficit.

Available statistics indicate the trade deficit for the current year is slightly higher than last wear warranting action, he demanded.

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