Pakistan’s prime minister claims government committed to facilitating business community, and industrialization needed for prosperity
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday warned that Pakistan would have no choice but to return to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for more loans if the country’s exports revenue did not increase sufficiently to support the national economy.
“We will have to go to the IMF again if we do not enhance our exports,” he said at the inaugural ceremony of 14th International Chambers Summit 2022, organized by the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Stressing that exports and tax collection were the primary methods to boost the national economy, he said the government was striving to improve both indicators.
He said the government was working to remove issues identified by exporters, investors and businessmen, claiming previous governments had “ignored” these sectors and hampered wealth creation. “The exports sector was stagnant in the past, but the incumbent government is providing all facilitation to the exporters,” he claimed, adding that the country’s exports had reached $31 billion for the first time in its history, while foreign remittances had gone up to $32 billion.
Emphasizing that industrialization was vital for a country’s economy, he noted that large-scale manufacturing had grown by 15 percent in the past year. “Corporate profits have reached Rs. 930 billion, while private sector offtake has touched Rs. 1,138 billion,” he said, stressing this had been despite the crunch caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “The I.T. sector exports have recorded 70 percent increase, rising to about $3 billion,” he said, claiming this was a result of the government’s business-friendly policies.
The construction sector, he said, had likewise witnessed a boom, while the rural agriculture-based economy comprising over 60 percent of the country’s population had earned Rs. 1,100 billion. “The change in their economic condition could be gauged from the increased sale of motorcycles,” he claimed.
On the supplementary finance bill tabled by the PTI in Parliament as part of “prior actions” required by the IMF to revive a stalled loan facility, Khan said a primary issue was the retail sector not paying sufficient taxes, adding that the government was working on tax automation. He said a “tax culture” needed to be established in Pakistan, as that would facilitate social welfare programs such as the health card initiative and the Ehsaas program.
Hailing the country’s coronavirus response, the prime minister claimed the PTI’s policy of keeping businesses open was now being followed by the U.K. “We did not let people die due to COVID-19 and lockdowns,” he said, adding that despite the pandemic, an inherited economic crunch and global inflation, all the country’s economic indicators were currently on the rise. Pakistan, he maintained, was still a “cheaper country” than its regional neighbors.
Khan also hit out at corruption, claiming it was a “jihad” for him to ensure rule of law in society.
The 14th International Chambers Summit 2022 is being attended by the presidents of more than 54 regular chambers, 10 small chambers, 13 women’s chambers and representatives of development partners, international business community, ministries, government institutions and political parties.