Trade: (ICCI urges for focusing on exports to reduce reliance on loans)

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) has called upon the government to focus on promoting exports in order to attain self-sufficiency and reduce dependence on local and foreign loans as the cost of debt servicing was rising and eating into sufficient chunk of tax revenue.

The debt servicing was 30.4 percent of tax revenue during the last year. Sheikh Amir Waheed, President ICCI, said that the government in Strategic Trade Policy Framework (STPF) 2015-18 had set target to enhance exports to $35 billion by 30th June 2018, but the current trend of exports showed that achieving this target was almost impossible.

He said that Pakistan was losing exports to regional countries as during 2017 exports of India increased to $275.8 billion, Vietnam’s $215 billion, Bangladesh’s $34billion, but Pakistan’s exports, that had climbed to $25 billion in 2013-14, have come down to around $21 billion during 2017, which was not encouraging.

He said that the dwindling exports and widening trade as well as current account deficits could pose many new challenges to the economy.

He was of the view that promoting annual exports to $30 billion would lower the needs of the country to go for foreign loans.

He said the government should cooperate with private sector in identifying new markets for diversification in foreign trade and enhance exports. He also stressed that the government should resolve the problems faced by the exporters on war footing basis.

Sheikh Amir Waheed said that about Rs.250 to Rs.300 billion refunds of exporters were reportedly stuck up with the government due to which the export sector was facing liquidity problems. He stressed that government should ensure timely release of refunds to facilitate the exporters.

Mohammad Naveed Senior Vice President and Nisar Mirza Vice President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that the former Prime Minister had announced an incentive package of Rs.180 billion to boost exports out of which Rs.140 was to be given to exporters in cash and Rs.40 billion in the shape of tax exemptions.

However, the incentives package for exporters have not been fully implemented as yet due to which the export sector could not get its real benefits.

They stressed that the government should ensure full implementation of said incentive package to provide badly needed relief to the exporters that would help in turning around the falling exports and improving the economy.