(23 September 2022)
Chairman of National Business Group Pakistan, President of Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance and former Provincial Minister Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday said that the government should solve the problems of the people and speed up the import of food from neighbouring countries.
Imports from all four neighbouring countries should be allowed to address the food security issue, he said.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that all the import taxes should be discontinued on food imports until the agricultural production situation in the country returns to normal.
Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that the war between Russia and Ukraine caused a lot of damage to agriculture worldwide and the prices of all agricultural commodities started skyrocketing while the biggest impact was on the price of wheat.
During the war, floods devastated a large area of Pakistan and wiped out crops on millions of acres. In these circumstances, imports from Iran and Afghanistan were allowed, but soon the supply of foreign exchange to the importers was stopped, which increased their business costs, he said.
The business leader noted that India is the best source of quick and cheap food items from which imports are not being allowed because the opposition can take political advantage of it.
For some political elements, politics is more important than the public interest. Due to the lack of direct trade with India, Indian and Pakistani businessmen are forced to trade through the United Arab Emirates, the additional cost of which is being paid by the poor people of Pakistan.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that the government should give priority to the welfare of the people and give priority to the neighbouring countries instead of importing agricultural products from distant countries, moreover, instead of distributing 17 billion dollars or four thousand billion rupees to foreign farmers every year, it should promote local farmers.
If farmers can get interest-free loans, it can bring a revolution in the country’s agricultural production; otherwise, by 2050, when Pakistan’s population will reach 380 million and the situation will worsen.
Apart from agriculture, other sectors of the economy also need attention, otherwise, the problems of energy, poverty, unemployment and food security will continue to increase.
Climate change should also be addressed otherwise heavy rains, devastating floods, droughts, heat waves and melting glaciers will wreak havoc on the country. Mian Zahid Hussain further said that if geo-economics is not given priority over geo-politics, the country will have no future.