Mamoon Hussain said that Pakistan was moving in the right direction and the begging bowl would be broken by paying the foreign debts within the next five years.

He was addressing a function held in connection with 40th anniversary of Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He said that in 2008, the foreign loans were Rs6,700 billion which swelled to Rs14,800 billion in 2013. “Now, we have to get loan to repay the loans’ instalments. The government has made a promise to break the begging bowl but it has become international liability to repay the due instalments of debts. However, it is on the right direction and we hope that it will get rid of the foreign loans within the next five years,” he said.

He was critical of corruption in the previous government and said that the plague of corruption is not restricted to the politicians only but it had polluted the entire society. He said, “It is unfortunate that we have no courage to criticise the corrupt elements. However, time has come for the people to unveil the black sheep so that corruption and misappropriation could be eliminated.”

He asked the business community to work with commitment and devotion as Pakistan’s future was directly linked with their progress and prosperity. He posed full trust in the leadership of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and said, “I do not say that the present government consists of angles. However, they are competent, dedicated and committed so they could bring in qualitative change in the country.”

The president said that increase in electricity rate triggers price hike and the act makes the government unpopular. He said, “How long we could afford to purchase electricity at Rs14/unit and supply at Rs9/unit? The circular debt has again risen so the nation should swallow the bitter pills of price hike. We are working on electricity projects to generate 22,000 MW. However, everyone knows that this would take three years to get completed.” He said that electricity rate would come down after two and a half years.

He also praised the government regarding increasing of rupee’s value against the US dollar. He said that the government was enforcing reforms in all the sectors. He was also critical of the nationalisation policy of 1970 which proved to be detrimental to the industry as well as education as various companies had started establishing educational institutions but they stopped the process due to the nationalisation. “So, we should learn a lesson from the past and avoid making wrong decisions,” he said.

He asked the FCCI to take initiative for setting up a university and assured it of maximum government support within prevailing economic resources. Regarding exports, he said that Pakistan was exporting products to 200 countries but 76 percent of the total export items were restricted to only 20 countries. He called upon the exporters to explore new markets.

“I am going to Nigeria on July 21-22 to explore new vistas of cooperation,” he said and asked the FCCI members to join him and explore new markets of Nigeria, South Africa, Congo, Kenya and Myanmar. He said that Pakistan was among a few countries that have high rate of giving charity. He said that the people of Pakistan were fully aware of their social and moral obligations about the have-nots. He said that we should continue working for the betterment of the deprived segments of the society.

Earlier, in his welcome address, FCCI President Engr Suhail Bin Rashid enumerated the achievements of the chamber during the last 40 years. He said that the business-friendly government had taken important steps to revive the battered economy. Loadshedding has been reigned in and gas was ensured during last winger season, he said.

He said that GSP Plus status was yet another achievement of the government that had opened EU markets for Pakistani products. The economic indicators are positive and Pak rupee had gained strength because of viable financial policies, he said and mentioned that the recent visit of the President, prime minister and Punjab chief minister to China had paved the way for new investment of US$ 32 billion in the country. He hoped that the government would overcome the remaining problems and successfully put Pakistan on the road to progress and prosperity. He demanded representation of FCCI on federal boards and advisory committees.

Earlier, President of Pakistan unveiled the plaque to mark the 40th anniversary of the chamber. He also cut a cake and gave away awards and shields to its former presidents.