FAISALABAD -  Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) President Engineer Muhammad Saeed Sheikh has said that $51 billion Chinese investment under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will attract another $150 billion investment from other countries and the government as well as the business community must be fully prepared to exploit these emerging opportunities.

While addressing a press conference, he said that textile is the mainstay of the national economy. “Out of $13 billion total textile exports, the share of Faisalabad is 55 percent but for the last 10 years this sector has been totally ignored by the successive governments”, he said and added that electricity and gas is also a raw material for textile sector along with cotton and cotton yarn.

He pointed that due to the shortage of electricity and gas many export oriented units have been closed down during last 10-15 years. He said that the present government has ensured uninterrupted electricity supply but the gas supply has been suspended. He further said that the prices of these commodities are yet other irritants. He said, “We are uncompetitive with our regional competitors, who are getting electricity and gas at much cheaper rates. Similarly, their governments are also providing them extra incentives and subsidies.”

He said the government should also provide a level playing field to the Pakistani exporters to compete with their rival countries in the international markets. He admitted that the government has paid sales tax refund claims but still the payments of other claims are lying pending.

Responding to a question, he thanked the media persons for highlighting the issues of the business community and hoped that this cooperation will continue in future. Responding to yet another question, he said that the Pakistani ambassadors and particularly the commercial attachés posted abroad have bitterly failed in contributing their role in enhancing Pakistani exports.

He claimed that during last 10 to 15 years the government policies are not industry friendly. He said, “We had high hopes that the present government will resolve our basic and fundamental issues but the decline in exports is indicative of its lukewarm attitude towards this sector.” “The government has to review and revisit its textile policies so that we could easily compete with our regional competitors,” he added.

He also expressed his dismay over the non appointment of textile minister and said that it is yet another example that this sector is being badly neglected by the present government.

FCCI Senior Vice President Rana Sikandar Azam said that traders are a major force but they are divided in groups and due to their division they are not getting proper respect in the government offices. He said, “We have to get rid of politicians to resolve our basic and fundamental issues. He said that we are not in conflict with the government but at that same time we cannot close our eyes form our fundamental issues.”

FCCI Vice President Engineer Ahmad Hassan said that business community must prepare itself to fully exploit the opportunities brewing within the country due to CPEC. He said, “Pakistan is an agriculture base country but our production is half as compared to China. He said that we must launch joint ventures for value addition and increase in production with Chinese collaboration.” He said the government should formulate viable policies for the benefit of people. He said that Pakistan is still exporting four million bale of cotton which could be used for value addition to earn more foreign exchange.