ISLAMABAD - Business is the backbone of our economy and businessmen can play a very important role in making Pakistan a success story. 

These observations were made by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf while talking to a delegation of Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the PM’s House Friday. The Prime Minister said that business not only generates revenues for the government but also creates employment opportunities.

The Prime Minister said that my government desires that there is a political and economic stability in the country. He praised the businessmen for their entrepreneurship and hoped that businesses would flourish so that country should progress. The President of Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) Manzar Khurshid Sheikh said that RCCI has so far held six exhibitions in various countries on its own to promote exports of the country. The RCCI, he said, is planning to host more exhibitions in future as well. 

Sheikh said that industry should be given preference and patronised by the government especially in provision of gas and electricity. He said that Pakistan is the 5th largest exporter of precious stones and we have a huge potential of increasing its export to an estimated $15 billion annually. He demanded establishment of an Export Processing Zone in Rawalpindi-Islamabad. The President, RCCI said that businessmen are optimistic about the economic prospects of the country and urged the government to manage circular debt and give recognition to businessmen who pay taxes.

The President, RCCI extended an invitation to the Prime Minister to visit RCCI which he accepted.   The representatives of RCCI requested the Prime Minister to chalk out a strategy and ensure that industries receive uninterrupted supply of electricity for at least 12 hours.  They also drew attention of the Prime Minister towards the practice of the electricity distribution companies which charge fuel adjustment retrospectively. 

The Prime Minister accepted the proposal of establishing an Export Processing Zone in Islamabad and said that the circular debt issue is complex. It is the cumulative impact of tariff difference borne by the government as well as system inefficiency. The government, he said, subsidises consumers by Rs 3.08 for every unit of electricity consumed. 

The Prime Minister urged the businessmen to come forward and assist the government by starting projects on public-private partnership basis to reduce the gap between supply and demand as well as to improve system efficiency.   The Prime Minister directed the IESCO authorities to hold a meeting with the representatives of RCCI to ensure that they are assured reliable power supply.  The Prime Minister also agreed with the suggestion that tax procedure be simplified and streamlined to encourage tax culture in the country.

Minister for Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Minister of State for Commerce Abbas Khan Afridi and other senior officials were present during the meeting.

Meanwhile, advisor to PM on Petroleum and Natural Resources Dr Asim Hussain, has briefed Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on winter plan of LPG and LNG management, with specific focus on the provision of gas supply to domestic consumers in upcoming winter.

Dr Asim apprised the Prime Minister that his team were working on a winter plan as per directions of the Prime Minister for the upcoming winter season.

He also apprised about the progress on negotiations carried out by his Ministry to import LNG and LPG to meet the energy requirements of the industry.

Prime Minister directed the Advisor to ensure uninterrupted supply of gas to domestic consumers while framing Winter Plan. He also directed him to sensitise the general public about the winter plan through effective media campaign.