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USAID shows interest to engage with private sector in Punjab

USAID Mission visits Lahore Chamber of Commerce

LAHORE: A four-member USAID Mission, led by Provincial Director Kevin Sharp called on the LCCI President Almas Hyder on Friday and discussed economy of Pakistan & trade relations with United States.

USAID mission members Kathleen McDonald, Kanwal Bokharey and Haroon Raheem, LCCI former Senior Vice Presidents Amjad Ali Jawa, Khawaja Khawar Rasheed, EC Members Mian Zahid Javed, Adeeb Iqbal Sheikh, Waseem Chawla and Asia Sail Khan also spoke on the occasion.

“There is a lot of scope in Pakistan’s sports, textile, information technology, engineering, surgical goods, leather and various other sectors”, Almas Hyder said and added that interested foreign franchises would be welcomed in Pakistan. He said that already a number of foreign companies are operational in Pakistan successfully. He said that Pakistani companies should have access to all international forums where they can sale their products.

Almas Hyder informed the USAID Mission that LCCI had various meetings with the Prime Minister, other high official and discussed taxation system, ease of doing business and harmonization of taxes.

To a question about the PM’s recent visit to United States, the LCCI President said that it is a great beginning of a new era.

About the economy of Punjab, the LCCI President said that its contribution in Pakistan’s GDP is around 54%. During the last five years, the average annual provincial GDP growth rate has been 4.9 percent.  He said that the private sector in Punjab produces more than 90 percent of the goods and services in the province. It is therefore, the main driver of economic growth, employment and social outcomes in the province.

He said that the role of private sector in current times has become even more important as the Government is squeezed for fiscal space. Thus, creating an enabling environment, in which private sector can flourish, is the most cost efficient way of achieving development targets.

Almas Hyder said that Punjab faces key development challenges which include underutilized manufacturing capacity; low productivity of physical and human capital; unemployment and skills shortage.

On the economic front, USAID can play a vital role in enhancing private investment and private sector led growth in Punjab. US-Aid can facilitate by bringing private sector investment and expertise for developing Special Economic Zones in various districts of province. This would prove to be a catalyst in enhancing economic growth in the province.

He said that the industrial sector holds a significant position in Punjab’s economy, and an even greater potential. The industrial sector of Punjab contributes 17.5 percent to the total value of goods and services produced in the economy. It employs almost 9.3 million people, of which 4.58 million are engaged in the SME sector.

Almas Hyder said that development of human capital has the most significant impact on growth and performance of all sectors. USAID can play a role in this by facilitating knowledge partnerships of skill development institutions with high quality private sector employers and international training providers.

“On the agriculture side, livestock sector has immense potential in Punjab. Genetic improvement is required in the livestock breeds to enhance the productivity of Dairy Sector. USAID can facilitate in developing a genetic modification program to develop livestock sector”, the LCCI President added.

Provincial Director of USAID Kevin Sharp gave a detailed briefing about USAID, Punjab working saying that they are working under a good strategy. He said that Punjab is heart of Pakistan and has an important role in Pakistan’s economy.

The Mission members said that considering the importance of Punjab in Pakistan’s economy, USAID would like to engage more with  private sector in Punjab, particularly in commercial ventures e.g. franchising. USAID believes that there is a lot of appetite in private sector for collaboration with USAID and it would like to help businesses to invest more in Pakistan. USAID already has various programs for facilitating  private sector.. USAID has partnership with various Banks in Pakistan for facilitating micro-financing, agriculture sector and clean energy projects. USAID would also like to work with private sector for providing an enabling business environment in the country.

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