KARACHI: Deputy Chairman Senate of Pakistan Saleem Mandviwalla, while speaking at a webinar organized by Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) on Wednesday to develop national consensus on core economic agenda, stated that inconsistency and changes in policies have always been a problem as these changes either implemented through federal budget or otherwise throughout the year create a challenging environment for the business community. Therefore, all the Chambers and trade associations and FPCCI must unite and make collective efforts to effectively deal with issues being faced by the entire business and industrial community.
The webinar was also attended by Member National Assembly Ahsan Iqbal Chaudhry, Vice Chairman Businessmen Group Anjum Nisar, President KCCI M. Shariq Vohra, Senior Vice President Saqib Goodluck, Vice President Shamsul Islam Khan and others.
Saleem Mandviwalla advised all the Chambers to encourage their members to bring cases of harassment by NAB to Chamber’s notice and the same should subsequently be forwarded to Deputy Chairman Senate’s office so that these could be taken up with National Accountability Bureau (NAB) in order to get them resolved.
He stated that he has received hundreds of applications from all over the country from businessmen who have been victimized by NAB. “These businessmen were victimized as they carried out businesses with people currently being investigated by NAB”, he said, adding that businessmen should not be scared of the government authorities and come forward to highlight NAB’s harassment.
Speaking on the occasion, MNA Ahsan Iqbal underscored that it was the private sector that holds the key to progress of any nation as the days when the national investment used to lead are gone. Economies are increasingly dependent on Foreign Direct Investment and private investment. Unfortunately, Pakistan has not been able to harness the potential of foreign direct investment and private sector investment. The economy would never flourish when private sector remains shy to invest in the economy, he added.
He said, “We are now living in an extraordinary time, a time for paradigm shift. The whole model of business is undergoing fundamental changes and the models for industrial revolution developed some 300 years ago are becoming irrelevant as today the knowledge economy holds key to wealth creation.”
Hence, there is a need to explore new ways, compatible sources for wealth development and enhance capacity, Ahsan Iqbal said, adding that time has come that all the key stakeholders of Pakistan including the politicians, judges, military, bureaucracy, media and the private sector have to sit down together to develop a 10-year long national charter or a code of conduct on economy, democratic governance, justice, social issues, foreign policy and national security. “These are the fundamental areas in which we need consensus. Key to national economic development lies not in setting out policies, it lies in creating an enabling environment and it lies in developing confidence amongst the drivers of the economy who the investors.”
He pointed out that a country like Vietnam maintains US$9 billion FDI and Myanmar attracts US$4 to US$5 billion FDI per annum while Pakistan with a population of 210 million people was barely attracting US$1 billion. “Given our population and market size, we should be attracting US$20 to US$25 billion FDI per annum which will only come if our private sector is investing. If our private sector is not investing, FDI will also not come”, he added. “Economic stability can only be achieved through political stability hence we must learn from our mistakes and start speaking the truth also. We must understand that without stable politics there cannot be a robust economy”, he opined.
Vice Chairman BMG Anjum Nisar, in his remarks, stated that it was a matter of grave concern that even after more than 70 years of existence, Pakistan’s exports were hovering around US$24 billion whereas the FDI was around US$1.5 billion which actually is a shame for a country like Pakistan. “Hence, it was very essential to come up with Charter of Economy which must address the basic issues and we must also look at other models around the world to see what strategies were pursued by many countries to improve their exports, FDIs and other economic indicators. Secondly, the political parties have right to protest but we have to deal with political uncertainty in order to pull the country out of economic crises.”
Earlier, while welcoming the webinar participants, President KCCI M. Shariq Vohra stated that the Karachi Chamber has initiated a series of webinar to develop national consensus on core economic agenda as it was very crucial to put the political differences aside and establish long term goals under a Charter of Economy for a period of 20 years in order to ensure economic and industrial stability all over the country.