Govt improving business climate, expediting work on SEZs & FTAs

Exclusive Interview

The Consul talks to Abdul Razak Dawood, Advisor to PM on Commerce & Industry

Q: Please comment on the problems faced by businessmen and Board of Investment (BOI) strategy to improve the ranking of Pakistan on World Bank’s Ease of Doing Index.

 Ans: The main demand of businessmen is to expedite the process of sale tax refund and other tax related matters. We have succeeded in resolving most of the issues being faced by the business community As for improvement in Ease of Doing Business Index, BOI is implementing the plan in cooperation with provincial governments. We hope to further improve the ranking in next year. We already improved the index from 147 in year 2018 to 136 in 2019 and now the ranking of Pakistan is at 108.

Q: What is the number of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) which are likely to be signed in remaining

 three years term of Pakistan Tahreek-Insaf government?

 Ans: We are working to get Pakistani goods a free access to American market but it requires five to seven years to complete legislation and trade related impediments with America. But we are optimistic to get access of Pakistani products in Africa continent.

Q: When will the development work on three prioritized special economic zones (SEZs) under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) start?

 Ans: Development work at Rashakhai (KP) SEZ has been completed and progress is also seen in all nine SEZs identified by both China and Pakistan. However, the government is working on provision of gas and electricity to these proposed SEZs.

Q: The global economy is facing a slowdown, a process which would be worsen in coming days. In such a scenario how do you expect to maintain growth in agriculture sector and plan to offer any agriculture package to formers?

 Ans: Yes. There is economic slowdown worldwide. Pakistan’s economy is also feeling the impact in this depressed environment; however, our exports are improving. In agriculture sector, the government is focusing on cotton sector as we missed the cotton growth target in current year. But we are surplus in rice growth.

Q: How do you propose to rescue the pharmaceutical sector which is witnessing a decline in exports?

 Ans: The input cost of pharmaceutical sector has increased manifold because of dollar-rupee parity. In addition, the federal government does not allow pharmaceutical companies to increase the prices of drugs. We realize that pharmaceutical industry is facing financial issues. No doubt, the export of pharmaceutical products has gone down but it is wrong to say that the industry is in any serious trouble.

Q: Do you agree that devaluation is the main reason for inflation? How do you propose to tackle the problem? 

 

Ans: Yes, devaluation is the main reason which leads to inflation. But the government is taking a number of steps to bring inflation under control.

Q: Do you agree that commercial banks’ 13.25 percent markup is the reason for declining private sector borrowings and slowing economic growth in the country?

 Ans: The government is aware that higher markup is a barrier to the growth of private sector investment. Therefore, the government has introduced long term borrowing plan for private investment and also budgeted an amount of around Rs 300 billion for this purpose.

Q: What is your comment on the tight monetary policy?

Ans: When your economy faces problems than you have to have a tight monetary policy. But I am sure that State Bank of Pakistan will ease monetary policy in coming days.

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