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President Terms IMF Important Agreement

According President Dr. Arif Alvi, the agreement is expected to assist the country in resolving its financial and economic issues.

ISLAMABAD: Defending the decision to sign an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), President Dr Arif Alvi has claimed the move is “expected to assist the country manage its financial and economic issues”.

Dr. Alvi told presidents of chambers of commerce and industry from around the nation on Wednesday that parliament, the courts, the administration, and the business sector should all work together to tackle economic problems.

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The gathering was attended by the presidents and representatives of 54 chambers of business and industry from around the country. Women’s chambers of business, small and medium chambers of commerce, APTMA, P@SHA, Pakistan Poultry Association, and the Stock Exchange all had representatives at the Aiwan-e-Sadr (Presidential Palace). Representatives from the pharmaceutical industry also attended the conference.

While addressing the meeting’s attendees, the president emphasised the need of the country’s three major branches working together with the business community to identify and resolve challenges confronting the country in order to guarantee political, economic, and financial stability.

He also stated that those who predicted the derailment of the political and democratic processes should be “completely discouraged,” and that the country’s democracy should be reinforced with each passing day.

Speaking on the occasion, the president stated that signing the deal with the IMF was “essential,” and that the measure will most likely assist the country in resolving its financial and economic issues.

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“A representative administration mandated by the people could sell Pakistanis on difficult decisions,” President Alvi stated.

It should be mentioned that the country’s senior officials reportedly advised Wednesday that the administration make rapid steps to break the deadlock and restart the IMF programme.

They highlighted political reasons as the biggest impediment to strong economic measures by top-level government decision-makers. If the country proceeds with the Fund’s proposal, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s administration would be forced to take strong actions.

These include levying additional taxes in the range of Rs300 to Rs400 billion, primarily by increasing the rates of indirect taxes and withholding taxes, charging consumers the full cost of electricity by increasing per-unit rates in the range of Rs7.50, and raising gas tariffs by 50% to 60% on an immediate basis.

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“Frustration has been building among senior policymakers since they have spelled out strategy, associated cost, and its implication in case of non-implementation on IMF prescriptions as adjustments cost would continue to rise with each passing day,” sources told The News on Tuesday.

During the conference, the country’s president shared the opinions of senior officials, referring to political stability as the most important factor in economic growth.

He stated that Pakistan’s economic predicament “required” the conduct of general elections to instal a truly representative administration capable of making “important and tough decisions” to assist the country overcome the challenges it was experiencing on the political, economic, and financial fronts.

In answer to a question, the president praised the establishment’s intention to stay out of political matters, emphasising that this was an opportune chance to use democratic means to resolve the nation’s problems.

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The president emphasised the significance of changing to green energy in his remarks to the presidents and representatives of the country chambers of business.

He stated that petroleum goods utilised in energy generation and transportation accounted for the majority of the country’s import bill.

“This cost can be greatly reduced if we adopt an all-encompassing energy, water, and gas conservation plan, which is implementable and can yield results with the dedication and assistance of the business community”.

He also emphasised that switching companies and industrial operations to green energy sources such as solar and wind will assist cut imports while also safeguarding the environment.

President Alvi went on to say that there was no shortage of ideas in Pakistan. However, there was a communication gap between decision-making authorities, target communities, and institutions in charge of implementation.

Citing the measures taken by the Imran-led government during the COVID-19 pandemic, the president highlighted the importance of the political parties working in tandem and said: “Through the coordinated efforts of all the stakeholders, we were able to defeat the pandemic in an effective manner as compared to regional as well as other countries of the world.

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“By using a similar approach, we can identify national concerns on all fronts, establish consensus-based and completely sold-out solutions, and execute them in an efficient and proactive manner.”

During the session, the president also addressed the issue of women’s participation in business, instructing the women’s chambers of commerce to offer guidance to women entrepreneurs in order to aid them in obtaining bank loans to establish and set up their own firms.

“Despite the banks’ promises of 100% loan disbursement to all women requesting for loans, sadly only 5% of the loans put out had been availed,” he remarked, urging women’s chambers of commerce to serve as beacons for women seeking loans to promote their enterprises.

The president emphasised the importance of the country’s cottage industry, which has expanded to include gemstone and diamond processing, chip design, and other sophisticated fields, by emphasising the need to use Meta’s skill training programmes to help women gain marketable skills and sell their products and services online.

During the meeting, the president focused the business community’s attention on five critical issues.

These include providing a harassment-free workplace for women; including differently-abled people, who make up about 10% of the population; the role of the business community in reducing mental health issues, which stand at a shocking 24% in Pakistan; lowering the mortality rate due to breast cancer; and bringing out-of-school children into the school system.

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Speaking on the last of these, the president highlighted his worry over the poor state of children’s primary school enrollment in Pakistan, which according to the World Bank’s most recent report was just 68%.

“In India, Sri Lanka, and Bangladesh, the rate is above 98%,” he said, adding “All stakeholders including the business community need to take proactive actions to ensure the enrolment of children in primary schools”.

During the discussion, leaders from the business sector expressed their worries about the country’s economic position and proposed solutions to the current financial problems.

While commenting on the business community’s ideas, President Alvi stated that the country’s Trust Laws needed to be updated to facilitate the registration and operation of Trusts, which would assist boost enterprises in the country.

He also stated that a collaborative process should be initiated as soon as possible to assist the business community in resolving concerns such as taxation, import clearance, and the establishment of Lines of Credit.

The business community also brought the president up-to-speed on the non-clearance of raw materials used to make life-saving drugs at country’s ports, which according to one member of the business community, “if not handled promptly would lead to the shortage of essential and life-saving medicines in the country”.

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