FAISALABAD - Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FCCI) President Engineer Muhammad Saeed has said the increase in cost of production is the major cause of decline in exports.

“Now, we have been left with only option to restrict our export related activities and focus only on the domestic markets to survive in this changed environment,” he said while addressing a meeting of traders belonging to different groups of ‘Anjuman Tajran’ in addition to the representatives of auto parts, food, confectionery, instalments, flour mills, power looms and sizing etc. He said that FCCI is an apolitical organisation of traders, industrialists and businessmen belonging to this third largest city of the country. “We are fighting for their rights, in addition to playing our fundamental role as bridge between the government and business community,” he said.

Commenting on the prevailing economic situation, he said, “It is the outcome of the policies of previous governments who bitterly failed to resolve the problems confronted by the business community.” He said that Pakistan had faced worst ever energy crisis during former president Zardari regime. “No doubt, Nawaz Sharif government ensured continuous supply of electricity and gas but the price escalation in its price made our exportable surplus uncompetitive in the International markets”, he added.

He was also critical of the difference in gas price within the country as the industrialists from Punjab are getting gas at the rate of Rs1000 per MMBTU whereas, the same gas was available in Sindh at the rate of Rs600 MMBTU.

He also expresses concern on what he termed ‘unilateral decision-making’ by the government and alleged that the worker’s salaries were increased without consulting the real stakeholders. He said that apparently increase of Rs1000 in salary was negligible but its overall impact was unbearable for the industrialists that were passing through a deep crisis from the last many years.

He proposed that instead of increasing salaries of industrial workers, the government should provide subsidy to the workers to fulfil their basic and fundamental needs. He said that the time has proved beyond any doubt that increase in agricultural commodities and salaries of workers have further increased inflation and poverty. Hence, the government should consult the stakeholders and carve out practicable policies through which the objectives of industrial growth could be achieved in addition to providing relief and succour to the industrial workers.

The FCCI president said that political instability has further aggravated the economic situation in the country. After the disqualification of Nawaz Sharif a deep rooted conspiracy is being hatched to eliminate the entire political leadership that could save Pakistan from complete annihilation. He said, “We must create consensus and make collaborated efforts to foil the nefarious designs of anti Pakistan elements.” FCCI Senior Vice President Rana Sikandar-e-Azam and FCCI Vice President Engineer Ahmed Hasan also addressed the meeting and assured to resolve the problems confronted by the business community of Faisalabad.