KARACHI: In a desperate plea, a federal minister on Thursday urged investors and the business community to “take out dollars from their cellars” and invest it in Pakistan’s economy, which has been reeling from a forex crunch in recent months.

Speaking at an event at the Pakistan Institute for Development Economics (Pide), Planning and Development Minister Ahsan Iqbal stressed the need to increase productivity and exports and blamed those who were hoarding dollars for the current state of the economy, saying they were taking advantage of the country’s problems and were the ones responsible for the people’s misery.

“Today, if Pakistani investors take out the money from their cellars, Pakistan will not need to go to the International Monetary Fund (IMF)… right now, we are having to plead with the IMF,” he said, his voice loaded with emotion.

Mr Iqbal said that the biggest challenge in 75 years was that Pakistan’s production capacity could not be integrated with global markets.

He said that the country had failed to increase its exports for years and stressed the need to increase foreign direct investment in the country. “If we want to become a successful country, we will have to increase our exports from $32 billion to $100bn in shortest time possible,” he said, adding that exporters would be provided all possible assistance by the government in this regard.

Minister says select few are taking advantage of country’s economic problems

APP quoted the minister as saying that the government would meet the conditions set by the IMF to complete the current programme, and it would try its utmost to ensure that the common man was not affected by the decisions.

He also blamed the previous PTI government for “recklessly agreeing” to the programme, which the current government had no option but to

continue.

“We have to make a lot of adjustments, but we will take decisions in the larger interests of the state,” he said, but hastened to add that the government would try to minimise the burden of such measures “on the poor”.

Earlier, PIDE Vice Chancellor Dr Nadeem ul Haque said that the regulatory system was the biggest problem in Pakistan, with issues such as unnecessary documentation, taxation, and NOCs plaguing business activities.

Around 122 regulatory agencies collect taxes and do not contribute to productivity, he lamented.

Published in Dawn, January 20th, 2023

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