LAHORE                     -                The Pakistan Industrial & Traders Association Front has urged the government to provide level-playing field to business community, as the huge depreciation of rupee against dollar, record high markup rate and continued hike in power and gas tariffs have escalated the cost of production unprecedentedly, hitting not only the export sector but also the local industry.

In an interactive session with the media, the PIAF leadership lamented that the cost of production has flown upward, reaching the highest level of last seven years mainly due to massive cut in rupee value versus greenback and record high interest rate, leading to slowdown in economic growth.

On this occasion, the industry leadership and senior economic journalists discussed in details the prevailing economic scenario and gave valuable suggestions in this regard.

PIAF Chairman Mian Nauman Kabir suggested a considerable reduction in the key policy rate, taking it into single digit, with a view to providing the private sector access to low-cost borrowing. He warned the government of missing its annual growth target in major sectors, stressing the need for dropping energy prices for the local industry too to stimulate industrial growth further.

While praising PM Imran Khan for reversing his decision regarding increase in power tariff for the export sector, he said that the whole industry should be given relief. He said that increases in electricity prices or additional charges to the bills are not the solution of power sector problems. He also hailed the positive growth in large-scale manufacturing after a long time, saying it would help create jobs, as the large industries have bounced back, posting a healthy growth now.

The government decision of electricity supply at regionally competitive rate to the export sector will give a significant boost to the exports.

Mian Nauman Kabir also called for ease of doing business, lowering cost of production, solution of liquidity crunch through early refunds payment, long term and consistent energy tariff policy and relaxed import policy for industrial raw materials so that industrialization could promoted and exports could be enhanced.

Regarding ease of doing business, he added that various provincial departments including EOBI, Social Security, Women Welfare and Environment Department should facilitate the manufacturers and exporters in a better way.

PIAF former chairman and LCCI ex-president Mohammad Ali Mian said that Pakistan’s core issue was high cost of doing business which rendered its industrial production uncompetitive, suggesting the government to work on bringing around significant improvements in ease and cost of doing business for the industry.

Mohammad Ali Mian observed that the liquidity crunch was a major stumbling block in the way of improving exports, calling for ensuring refund of Sales tax within 72 hours of the filing of claim.

He said that the withdrawal of zero rated facility not only affected the large scale manufacturing, it also increased the cost of doing business of small industries and opened the door of smuggling which is unaffordable in the present economic environment.

 He suggested the government to facilitate the industrialization in Pakistan particularly the agro-based and value added industries for the enhancement of exports.

PIAF vice chairman Javed Siddiqi lauded the efforts of Advisor to PM on Commerce and Textile for taking keen interest in resolving the issues of business community and enhancement of economic activities in Pakistan.

“The government must provide level-playing field to the industry enabling it to successfully compete with its regional business rivals in international markets.” Appreciating the role of the Pakistan government he welcomed the European Union’s decision to retain the GSP Plus status for Pakistan for another two years, stressing the need for a new marketing plan to maximize the exports.

Javed Siddiqi said this facility has been available to Pakistan since Jan 2014, its continuation is an award for Pakistan’s progress in enacting new laws and developing new institutions for implantation of 27 core conventions of GSP-Plus, especially the National Action Plan for human rights.

He said that the national economy is directly linked with survival of the industry and its active participation in policy making is must to harvest the economic benefits of GSP Plus and other newly emerging opportunities.