LAHORE: Senior Vice President SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry and central chairman United Business Group (UBG) Iftikhar Ali Malik Monday asked Prime Minister designate Imran Khan to slap a complete ban on import of luxury items to protect foreign exchange reserves which will also promote local industry and generate employment and be Pakistani buy Pakistani.
Addressing a meeting of traders in connection with Independence Day here in the provincial capital, he said independence was attained after offering colossal sacrifices offered by our elders and there is no substitute in the world for freedom so we all should play our vital role making Pakistan an economic giant and citadel of Islam to make it corruption free welfare Islamic state in the comity of nation.
Iftikhar Ali Malik said that authorities can consider a ban on imports like many other countries including Iran, Nigeria, and Egypt have experienced the same. “Pakistan is importing eighty thousand luxury cars and thousands of costly motorcycles and countless other items even fruits and vegetables worth billions of dollars annually which must be banned,” he added.
The SVP SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that Pakistan needs seven to eight percent transformational growth in next ten years to mobilize the resources for social uplift of backward areas of the country and create jobs for growing youth population. The import bill reached record $60.86bn in 2017-18 from $52.9bn in the previous year, reflecting an increase of 15 per cent. Yet the country’s trade deficit reached a historic $37.6bn in 2017-18 from $32.5bn in the previous year.
Iftikhar Malik said that increasing regulatory duty on imports or banning imports could only work when smuggling is controlled otherwise all such efforts remain counterproductive.
He said that government should inform the masses about the benefits of the trade deals with partner countries before signing new deals. Giving suggestions to promote exports, he also said Pakistani brands have a potential to meet international consumers’ needs which only requires adequate promotional strategy to reach the targeted foreign audience and UBG will play its role to promote made in Pakistan products with cooperation of the coming PTI government at both local and international level with this mission motto, “be Pakistan and buy Pakistani products”.
He said stable economy is prerequisite for the survival of the country and promotion of democracy. He is much optimistic that the coming PTI government would take private sector into confidence for implementation of business friendly policies. He said if the PTI government properly utilizes the talents of the youth, he would be optimistic that Pakistan can be among top 10 economies by the end of 2040.
He said that unabated imports have taken a toll on the local industry while many industries are fighting for their survival including the soap industry providing jobs to over two hundred thousand people and providing Rs17 billion in the revenue.
Iftikhar Malik hoped that a strong political will under Imran’s leadership can lead to economic growth and poverty elimination in the SAARC region besides integration of the intra-trade, travel and tourism.
He said last year, the State Bank of Pakistan had also announced 100pc cash margin restrictions on the import of 131 items to discourage import of non-essential items.
The SVP SAARC Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that agro based industry has vast potential to be fully exploited besides rapid industrialization can bring green revolution to steer the country out of financial crunch.
He said prudent economic policies will definitely pay dividends. He said UBG will support all growth oriented business friendly policies provided private sector was taken into confidence prior to framing such policies.