KARACHI/LAHORE: Trade and industry on Monday called for immediate implementation of the Charter of Economy (CoE) to avert any economic disaster as the country reeled from the latest political turmoil.

Businessmen Group (BMG) chairman and former president Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) M Zubair Motiwala said the business and industrial sectors are perturbed by the recent political developments.

“The economy is already in a fragile state due to rupee devaluation, declining reserves, rising commodity prices and widening current account and fiscal deficits. This political crisis must not stretch for a long period and should be resolved at the earliest with a view to save the economy from further woes,” Mr Motiwala said.

He said the KCCI has always rightly demanded from the governments to introduce and strictly implement a CoE duly agreed by all political parties of the country. “Unfortunately, this legitimate demand was never taken into consideration, which is the reason for all the economic ills being faced by the country,” he added.

President KCCI Mohammad Idress said the business community has pinned its hope on the Supreme Court’s decision on Tuesday (today). “The country needs to fix things at the earliest as any delay will further shake trade and economy very badly,” he said.

The KCCI president warned that the aftershocks of current political turmoil including extra pressure on rupee, crash of stock market and prevailing negative sentiments among the foreign buyers will impact the economy negatively.

When contacted, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Irfan Iqbal Sheikh also expressed grave concerns over the situation and said the foreign and local investment in Pakistan cannot be made until the political situation improves. “At the moment, the stock market has fallen while the dollar exchange rate has crossed Rs185. The SC must take a decision as soon as possible in a bid to stablise the country,” he added.

“The current political situation is really devastating to our economy that is already under immense stress. The government must understand EU’s GSP+ status is set to expire next year,” said Ijaz Khokhar, the chief organiser of Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Textile Exporters Association Secretary Aziz Goheer said the last three years were largely favourable for the textile industry due to relentless support and suitable policies by the government. “Despite the restrictive nature of businesses because of Covid-19 pandemic, textile exports saw an unprecedented boom,” he said.

“We hope that the current political fiasco is sorted sooner than later without any detrimental implications for the country on economic front. Europe and America are the most significant destinations of Pakistani textile exports and we hope this trade relationship continues without any disruptions,” Mr Goheer added

“Pakistan is currently facing acute economic challenges like mounting inflation, trade deficit, soaring public debt and high devaluation. In this situation, political instability will harm the image of Pakistan as an attractive business destination,” said Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s President Mian Nauman Kabir.

“Economic issues are directly linked with political stability,” he said, hoping that sanity will prevail.

Talking to Dawn, All Pakistan Anjuman Tajiran General Secretary Naeem Mir said the markets wore a deserted look due to political uncertainty. He urged the judiciary and political leadership to take the country out of the crisis by taking a decision that would leave some positive impact on the economy.

Patron Karachi Wholesalers Grocers Association Anis Majeed also hoped that the SC would take the decision as per constitution. Association of Pakistan Motorcycle Assemblers Chairman Mohammad Sabir Sheikh said that a fair election can bring peace and harmony in the country. Much would also depend on the SC’s ruling tomorrow as per constitution, he added.

Published in Dawn, April 5th, 2022

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