ISLAMABAD

Businessmen in a meeting at Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry have shown great concerns over the trend of consistent rise in public debt of the country due to which every Pakistani now owed a debt of more than Rs.101,300 and called upon the government to take urgent remedial measures to save the country from falling into an inextricable debt trap.

Atif Ikram Sheikh, President, Sheikh Pervez Ahmed Senior Vice President and Sheikh Abdul Waheed Vice President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the country has witnessed an unprecedented increase of around 434 percent in public debt within a short span of 15 years as our public debt in 2000 was Rs.3,172 billion which has surged to Rs.16,936 billion by the end of March 2015. It showed that the successive governments have resorted to huge borrowings without giving consideration to the fact that this reckless approach was pushing the country towards a serious debt trap.

They stressed upon the government to make an innovative strategy to get rid of debt issue and give priority focus to exploiting indigenous resources to overcome fiscal deficit problems. They said the heavy borrowing by the government from banks has also limited the space for credit flow to the private sector due to which businesses were facing problems in growth and expansion. They said the best option for the government to minimize its reliance on debt was to take measures to strengthen the private sector. They said easy credit flow to private sector will help the country in promoting business activities, increasing exports, reducing imports, improving revenue collection and minimizing reliance on debt.

They said government should focus on making more investment in energy generation projects that would help in overcoming energy shortages leading to rapid industrialization and more jobs creation in the country. They were of the view that giving preference to enhancing exports through private sector development, improving tax revenue and curtailing the non-developmental expenditures were better options to reducing fiscal deficit and curtailing dependence on public debt.