Businessmen urge govt to address structural issues identified by IMF.

ISLAMABAD -- Business community has urged the government to address structural issues identified by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and for re-initiation of direct trade with India to reduce cost of import.

Kashif Anwar, President of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has said that at a time when the national market lacks alternative raw materials for industries, it is very important to re-initiate direct trade with India to reduce cost of imports from India arriving via Dubai.

He was speaking at a webinar on 'Challenges Facing Pakistan's Economy: Private Sector's Perspectives' organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) here.

Anwar has urged the government to adopt a charter of economy to design and guide long-term policy as a first step amidst the current economic crisis, which must be augmented with short-term policy interventions. He further said that amid the threat of increase in utility prices, the government needs to prioritize increase in exports and reduction in imports by industrial substitution of import items to meet the market demand. He emphasized that preventing disruption of the supply chain of raw materials for industries is a crucial element in increasing exports, which is currently being undermined by restriction on imports.

Dr Vaqar Ahmed, SDPI Joint Executive Director, said policy makers must deliberate and initiate host of short and long-term measures to stabilize the macro-economic situation and address structural issues identified by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He said that the government has invited proposals from private sector and civil society organizations so that their inputs might be incorporated in the financial bill to improve the economic outlook of the country.

Dr Shehla Javed Akram, the founder of Lahore Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry, reiterated that supply chain disruption of pharmaceutical industries is exacerbating the challenges of this sector. She pointed out that the country lags behind in terms of sector-specific policies compared to India and other western countries. This has reduced the sector's competitiveness, she added. She urged the government to design and implement policies to reduce import dependency. We must shift to make on local raw materials like India. She further suggested that the government should abolish the policy of price fixation and smuggling, which are causing closure of pharmaceuticals in Pakistan. She stressed that price...

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