FPCCI for raising forest cover up to 25pc to boost furniture sector
ISLAMABAD – President Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Irfan Iqbal Sheikh Sunday urged the government and private sector to join hands for raising Pakistan’s forest cover from 5% to 25% to meet the ever growing needs of furniture industry in the country.
Talking to Mian Kashif Ashfaq, CEO Pakistan Furniture Council (PFC) in Lahore, Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said currently, furniture and local industries were experiencing serious supply shocks which were not only impeding their further growth but also adversely affecting their international competitiveness. As the global economy is expected to be more challenging this year in wake of Covid 19, he urged the furniture industry to remain resilient by innovating, adopting technology as well as diversifying export markets in order to sustain demand in the long run. “We have to overcome challenges to strengthen our market share; we must continue to produce innovative and market-oriented products to meet challenging times,” he added. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said in the absence of enough supplies of wood, cheaper furniture made of fancy and laminated sheets of chipboard had flooded the local market. He said wooden furniture like that of shishum wood, was quite expensive that is why Shishum’s furniture was made for selected buyers only.
Mian Kashif informed the FPCCI Chief Pakistan needs mass tree plantation at plain, hilly and other barren areas with the active participation of private sector and government to meet the demands of the growing furniture industry. He said about 500,000 workers were engaged in forestry sector, and its related business such as logging, carpentry, and timber products manufacturing, and tourism and the forests contribute only 0.3 per cent to GNP due to low area. Kashif said the Pakistan furniture industry had the potential to be a substantial one at multiple levels as it could contribute significantly to the GDP and employ numerous people with varying skills in specially designed furniture.
He lauded the Pakistani furniture designers, craftsmen and suggested that these experts should play their part in enhancing furniture exports. “The country has excellent craftsmen and designers, who can virtually give life to a piece of wood,” the CEO PFC said, adding that Pakistani craftsmen should work in this particular area to earn much-needed foreign exchange”. Kashif Ashfaq said PFC planned to hold 13th Interiors Pakistan’s mega exhibition soon, which is aimed at exploring new opportunities for enhancing volume of mutual trade in furniture sector.
President FPCCI appreciates govt gesture on SRO 598
In the meanwhile, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh has appreciated the government’s positive gesture and assurance to extend the implementation date of SRO 598. In his statement issued here on Sunday, he said detailed and successful negotiations were held with the Federal Ministry of Commerce at the platform of this apex trade body of the country and that the extension in the date of implementation of SRO 598 was expected soon. Sheikh thanked the federal government in advance on behalf of the entire trade and industry for paying heed to their grievances.
This step would save the importers from losses amounting to billions of rupees as SRO 598 led to imposition of quarantine at all ports on the luxury items in-transit — under existing orders or under other commercial transactional procedures. He recalled that the FPCCI had been advocating the extension in the date of implementation of SRO 598 from day one when it was notified on May 19, 2022 as the ban was sudden and would have caused huge losses to the importers.
Sheikh also acknowledged the role of Federal Minister for Water Resources Syed Khurshid Ahmed Shah for playing his pivotal role in withdrawing 17 percent GST on seeds levied in the federal budget 2022-23. Seeds were one of the main inputs in the agriculture and economic viability of various crops. It will benefit the farmers in multiple ways, i.e. reducing their costs and enhancing their yields, he added. The FPCCI chief maintained that feeding a population of 220 million people was a humongous challenge in the current circumstances and import substitution in food items is also critical to save precious foreign exchange reserves. Sheikh termed the above-mentioned targeted interventions as indispensable for the food security of the country and saving the importers from losses in billions of rupees. He also pinned his high hopes to the consultative process with the economic team of the government in the broader national interest.