Karachi (PR): Mr. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, President FPCCI, has highlighted the glaring anomalies in the fiscal discipline; management of external account and economic growth rate; which are being observed by FPCCI despite the harshest contractionary measures being implemented in Pakistan for the past many months on the dictates of IMF.

Mr. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh stressed that people dealing with the ground realities of Pakistan’s economy, i.e. the business, industry and trade community of Pakistan, can see that the economic growth rate of the country will turn into negative by the time FY23 concludes. Based on the data & economic performance of the last 8 – 9 months; i.e. July 2022 – March 2023, International Financial Institutions (IFIs) have substantively revised Pakistan’s growth rate projections downwards. World Bank has revised it to 0.4 percent; IMF to 0.5 percent and Asian Development Bank to 0.6 percent, he added.

FPCCI Chief, however, maintained that independent economists are projecting the year-end growth rate to be in negative; with millions more added to the unemployment pool, and these estimates are ranging from – 1.0 percent to – 2.5 percent. This would the most unfortunate economic scenario for the country in its history and this recessionary cycle would be very hard to break, he added.

Mr. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh reiterated his stance that country’s exports and export-oriented industries must be protected at all costs; otherwise, the entire economy will collapse. He demanded that Export Finance Scheme (EFS) and Long-Term Financing Facility (LTFF) of the State Bank should be offered on favorable terms; with maximum interest rate at 10 percent to enable exporters to fulfil their pending export orders feasibly.

Mr. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh explained that when the growth rate goes into negative in a country like Pakistan with virtually no foreign exchange reserves, exploding population & battered industrial base; and that too in a nosedive pattern within a short period of one year; the entire political, social & economic fabric is torn apart; and, that is the rationale behind FPCCI’s proposed National Economic Agenda for the next 15 years – with all political parties on board for continuity in economic, industrial, trade, taxation, monetary, agricultural, IT & ITeS and SME policies.

Mr. Irfan Iqbal Sheikh has also proposed a broadened tax base and simplified taxation system in the upcoming federal budget 2023 – 24; and, FPCCI, the apex trade & industry body of Pakistan, is ready to resume the practically dysfunctional consultative process with the government nearly on all levels at the moment.