ISLAMABAD: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Saturday held out reassurance to the businessmen of Karachi pledging to consider their concerns during the budget deliberations for the year 2023-24.
The businessmen had expressed grievances regarding the restrictive import policies imposed by the State Bank of Pakistan, particularly concerning raw materials, which they claimed had significantly declined the country’s exports.
The budget announcement is scheduled for June 9.
The visiting delegation of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) led by its President Mohammad Tariq Yousuf highlighted the issues being faced by the business community, especially the restrictions imposed by the SBP on imports. They believed that to increase exports, they required raw materials for which imports were imperative.
Mr Dar and SBP Governor Jameel Ahmed assured the delegation that their concerns would be resolved. KCCI, the largest chamber in Pakistan, has a crucial role in economic stability, according to an official announcement from the finance ministry.
Mr Dar said that the government would incorporate the suggestions given by the chamber to stabilise the economy and promote businesses in the upcoming budget.
Meanwhile, a delegation of the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) led by Managing Director and Chief Executive Farrukh Hussain Khan also raised challenges faced by the capital markets and investors and presented recommendations to Mr Dar to be considered in the upcoming federal budget.
Mr Dar acknowledged and appreciated the role of PSX in providing a reliable, orderly, liquid and efficient digitised marketplace for investors. He said the government would provide a business- and investment-friendly environment through the budgetary proposals to attract more companies and investments and put the economy on a positive trajectory soon.
Delegations from the Pakistan Business Council (PBC) and Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) also discussed budgetary proposals with Mr Dar.
In a video message released to the media after a meeting with a KCCI delegation, Mr Dar emphasised that the government was exerting all efforts to overcome the ongoing economic crisis.
He highlighted that a series of initiatives would be introduced to promote agriculture and the upcoming budget would carry a range of measures aimed at long-term economic growth.
Acknowledging the impact of the government’s tough economic decisions on the business community and the general public, Mr Dar expressed that the government’s primary focus is to ensure that Pakistan’s sovereign commitments are met without any delays. He affirmed that thus far, there had been no delays in fulfilling these commitments.
Mr Dar emphasised Pakistan’s sovereignty and substantial assets, which he estimated to be worth trillions of dollars. While acknowledging the country’s external debts of $100bn, he stated that Pakistan also possesses significant assets, with one asset related to gas infrastructure alone being equivalent to 50pc of the country’s debt.
Published in Dawn, June 4th, 2023