LAHORE              -              The Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry has expressed optimism that upcoming year would be year of economic growth provided the government takes some decisive measures.

While talking to a group of businessmen, LCCI President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, Senior Vice President Ali Hussam Asghar and Vice President Mian Zahid Jawaid Ahmad said that government should expedite public-private consultation to achieve the desired economic goals in upcoming year. They said that business community is backbone of the economy and has fertile economic ideas that can put the country to the path of progress and prosperity. They said that consultation would also boost the confidence of private sector.

The LCCI office-bearers said that energy, water, markup, utility prices and bureaucratic hurdles should be the areas of focus for the government during the next year.

Referring to the recent gas crisis, they said that energy should be available to the consumers throughout the year instead of on seasonal basis. They said that during the year 2020, uninterrupted supply of gas and electricity to the consumer should be one of the top priorities. They said that most of the industrial units use gas as a major source of energy for their production therefore its unavailability is causing huge loss to the economy. They said that this issue can be tackled through good management. They hoped that while keeping in view the ground realities and economic challenges, State Bank of Pakistan would bring down mark up rate to a single digit during the year 2020. They said that reduction in markup rate from existing 13.25% to single digit would be a great favor to the industrial sector. It would help the government to attain the target of industrial growth, would reduce the cost of product and would also bring capital of the banks into circulation.

They said that at present, high energy prices are a major concern for the industrial sector which is combating various internal and external challenges. They said that investment by the government in energy sector will give huge benefits to the country in many counts therefore immediate action should be taken in this regard and investment particularly should be promoted in hydel power projects as it is the cheapest source of energy.

They urged the government to take right moves to give a quantum jump to the exports as these are hazardously low despite the fact that country has all resources to become an Export Power House. They blamed lack of value addition, poor marketing, least interest in accessing new markets for Pakistani merchandise, high cost of doing business and bureaucratic hurdles for below-the-level exports and called for rectification measures.

They said that a major part of Pakistan’s exports, particularly minerals, are in raw shape which is causing huge loss to the national exchequer as finished goods can earn more foreign exchange than the raw materials. They said that this target can be achieved through investment in technology, skill enhancement and research and development. They underlined the need for good marketing techniques to dig-out large number of foreign buyers for Pakistani products which are best of best quality in the world but are struggling due to lack of proper marketing. He urged the Pakistan’s Foreign Missions abroad to establish display centers for goods besides organizing single country exhibitions for Pakistan products to secure due place in the global market. “Display centers for Pakistani merchandise as well as cultural centers would highlight the industrial strength of the country around the globe while cultural centers would attract the foreigners to discover beauty and heritage of this beautiful piece of land.” They said that the days are gone when foreign missions were working for just diplomatic relations.