Business community must be taken on board for economic upturn: Zeshan
LCCI facilitation desks of NADRA, Traffic Police, LESCO, FBR, SMEDA and Excise & Taxation providing best services to the business community and the chamber will continue serving the stakeholders in a similar manner: LCCI VP
By M J Hayat
As the CPEC is a game changer for the economic health of the country, with this view the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has also taken a number of measures, including facilitating the members in getting hassle-free China visa. During the current year, the LCCI has extended over 3,000 members visa for China, enabling them to establish close contact with their Chinese counterparts.The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) should restore the facility of Open Account and advance payment for all importers, including commercial.Facilitation desks of NADRA, Traffic Police, LESCO, FBR, SMEDA and Excise and Taxation at LCCI are providing best services to the business community and the chamber will continue serving all the stakeholders.
LCCI Vice-President Zeshan Khalil expressed these views while exclusively talking to Daily The Business here the other day at his office.
The CPEC is expected to bring an economic prosperity in the country because of infrastructure development, construction and hydropower stations besides some mega development projects have already been made functional, he said, explaining, LCCI has also been working in that very direction and contributing its due share in the form of conducting seminars, training sessions, holding exhibitions so that the members could be able to drive maximum out the mega-project, enabling them to add to the economic development and growth of the country.
CPEC is expected to bring an economic prosperity in the country because of infrastructure development, construction and hydropower stations besides some mega development projects have already been made functional, he said, explaining, LCCI has also been working in that very direction
In this context, the best-ever step the LCCI has taken is that it has made it far easier for its members to get China visa to establish their ties with the businessmen of China. As people-to-people and business-to-business contact the countries can play a vital role in the successful joint ventures between the private sectors of both the countries. The LCCI has attempted to enable over 3,000 members to get China visa this year which is double in numbers than that of the previous years, Khalil said adding, that the chamber is looking forward to increasing the number further.
Talking about the hardships of the businessmen especially importers, he said that open account facility was a landmark facility provided by the government for the importers in 2017 to promote international trade but it is withdrawn by the State Bank of Pakistan.
“Now that the open account facility has been withdrawn without any solid reason, putting the importers and local industry to face hard time thereby badly impacting the business activities badly, LCCI has requested the SBP to look into the matter and restore open account facility for all importers while keeping the consequences of its suspension in mind.
He also mentioned that he has also taken up the issue with Prime Minister Imran Khan who assured the LCCI delegation to look into the matter and resolve the issue.
Sharing his views about the construction of dams in the country, he said to ensure economic growth energy, agriculture, mining, domestic and foreign investment, trade balance, loss-making public sector enterprises and natural resources also demand planning.
He said there is a direct relationship between energy and the gross domestic product of any country.
“Pakistan is in a dire need of energy projects of coal, hydropower and biomass as Pakistan’s population is expected to be crossed 260 million within next decade. Growing energy needs can be met by adding around 8000 MW generation through coal within next six-eight years with a cost of $8 billion that will cost an electricity unit of less than Rs 5 KW. It will save national exchequer Rs.172 billion per annum in import of bill for oil. Another 8100 MW can be added through the construction of Bhasha and Kalabagh dams.
The LCCI VP said that Pakistan has witnessed decline in water availability and it can be increased through the construction of new water reservoirs.
He said that sedimentation is reducing the water storage capacity in the existing dams and situation can be further aggravated in the near future.
“Water thrown into the sea every year is up to the three times of our total water carrying capacity such has been the wastage due to lack of will in the construction of large water reservoirs. Firstly the construction of all projects already in the execution phase should be completed at the earliest. Pakistan can have total water storage capacity of 26.47 MAF after completion of Bhasha dam,” he said adding that
Kalabagh dam can also be completed in six years and can give immense economic benefits to the country.
Talking about agriculture sector, LCCI Vice-President Zeshan Khalil said that the yield gap in the four major crops of Pakistan is three times from the best producers in the world such as China and Egypt besides having best canal system and natural resources. This low yield has contributed to the poverty in rural areas.
“If we stayed where we are today in term of cropped area and yield per hectare, Pakistan will have 30 percent less food available per capita by 2030. Egypt produces around three times more rice and sugarcane per hectare as compared to Pakistan” he said, adding that therefore Egypt and China should be the benchmarks for improving our yield.
He said that large scale introduction of hybrid seeds and mechanised farming, high efficiency irrigation system such as drip irrigation and reduction in waste of crop through introduction of privately owned storage facilities can help improve the yield.
Pakistan needs to improve skills of excavation and mining in order to take advantage of natural resources. In the absence of local technology, foreign countries jump in and play havoc with natural resources. Total share of mining and manufacturing in GNP is over 19 percent that can be increased considerably by facilitation, Khalil highlighted.
Sharing his view about fixing the national economy he said that Pakistan would have to be economically strong to stand tall among the influential economies and to bear and handle all sorts of international pressures. He said that sharing of economic plan with all the stakeholders would be good for both public and private sectors. He said that Pakistan is abundant with vast resources and does not need any external financial help, therefore the PTI government should tap the resources instead looking towards the international financial institutions.“These are the economic weaknesses which give rooms to external powers to interfere in our internal matters. Highest circular debt, trade deficit, discouraging exports, high ratio of debts, rupee devaluation, water shortage and miseries of agriculture sector have led to stagnant growth in Pakistan. The new government must have to address these issues through good economic reforms and consultation with the stakeholders,” he said, adding that Pakistan has all resources to become an economic giant but only need is to set directions with zeal, courage and sincerity.
The LCCI VP pointing to the natural resources of the country said that Pakistan’s huge mineral resources can help get rid of the economic ills, particularly external debts of over $ 90 billion, within next five years.
He said that country has one of the largest reserves of gold & copper and coal in the world. According to a rough estimate, value of coal reserves in Pakistan is 187 times more than the GDP of the country and only two percent of Pakistani coal reserves can generate 20,000MW for almost 50 years.
“In addition to gold, copper and coal, the country has vast reserves of precious stones, gypsum, salt and marble but instead of taking full advantage of these God-gifted resources most of the share being exported in raw form,” he highlighted.
“These resources must be used by the state instead of giving contracts to the foreign companies for extraction. He also called for new technologies and training of human resources for the mining sectors,” Khalill explained.
While strongly supporting the Kalabagh dam, the LCCI VP said that this mega project should not be sacrificed to the political wills as it has to play a major role in economic uplift of the country. He said that most of Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs) are strangling the national exchequer by eating up around Rs.600 billion annually. “Wastage of this hard-earned money of the taxpayers is a sheer injustice. These PSEs should be turned into profitable by strict reforms,” he shared, adding that market and products diversification is the best method to boost the exports.
“Pakistani exports always remained dependent on a few items and countries. United States, China, Afghanistan, United Kingdom and Germany are top five trading partners of Pakistan while various lucrative destinations are still untouched. Pakistani missions abroad should be given task to find out new destinations for Pakistan products. The government should also facilitate export-oriented industries by resolving their genuine issues like delay in refunds etc,” he suggested, saying fast changing global scenario and challenges for Pakistan; the incumbent government would have to ensure economic planning and its implementation in true sense of word for self-reliance and to avert any serious challenge to the national sovereignty.
Talking about the measures for the members of LCCI, he informed that the Chamber launched “LCCI Classified Directory of Trade & Industry” which has vast range of business data for the convenience of the members.
“LCCI Classified Directory of Trade & Industry has the data of 3,837 manufacturers, 3,889 exporters, 6,860 importers, 3,245 traders, 44 indenting agents and 5282 from services sector. The directory has 72 leading business sectors which have been divided into 473 sub-categories. The directory will prove an essential reference for every firm having business interests,” he informed, adding only LCCI in the whole country is regularly publishing the sector-specific directories for its members.
The LCCI Classified Directory of Trade & Industry has been designed to help business entrepreneurs to know about the businesses. This new directory will enable the businessmen community to be more involved with the economic development activities, the LCCI Vice-President further said, adding that Pakistan is a developing economy with abundant potential to attain faster industrial growth.
However, sustainable industrial and economic growth depends on comprehensive business data as it plays a significant role in boosting the global economy and drives the manufacturing revolution, he said.
The LCCI Vice-President said that being an emerging economy, Pakistan needs to use all tools to disseminate information to the world about the business sectors to ensure more collaboration between the Pakistani businessmen and their counterparts abroad.
He said that the LCCI Classified Directory of Trade & Industry will be sent to all leading business organisations and chambers in the country and abroad and to the foreign missions in Pakistan to ensure strong contacts between the LCCI members and foreign investors.
He also mentioned of the modern system for issuance of online membership to the business community.
“Development of this system is a part of the LCCI ongoing digitalisation campaign and a giant leap towards hurdle-less business environment. Online system will save precious time of the business community as now they can apply for the LCCI membership while sitting at their offices and homes besides submitting their documents,” he said.
“This initiative has been taken to bring the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry at par with the Chambers of Commerce in the developed world. To expedite the processes, an upgraded system has been put in place. This system will help strengthen data feeding and communication with the LCCI members,” he stated, explaining the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry will continue to facilitate its members in the larger interest of the trade, industry and economy.
In the knowledge race of the 21st century and rapid globalisation, the quality of information technology-based education has to be enhanced to bring it at par with international standards for bringing the country out of economic mire. To achieve the goal, the government would have to spend more on education as the existing budget is too meager to produce desired and required results, the LCCI VP opinioned. Facilitation desks of NADRA, Traffic Police, LESCO, FBR, SMEDA and Excise and Taxation at the LCCI are already providing best services to the business community and the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry will continue to provide modern facilities to its members, LCCI Vice-President Zeshan Khalil concluded.
2nd B ( State Bank of Pakistan should restore the facility of Open Account and advance payment for all importers, including commercial” )
3rd B ( CPEC is expected to bring an economic prosperity because of infrastructure development, construction and hydropower stations besides some mega development projects have already been made functional. LCCI has also been working in that very direction” )