"Pakistan is currently fighting a losing battle for survival in the highly competitive export market."

KHALID BUTT, Bureau Chief, Lahore
Dec 04 - Dec 10, 2006

The matter of bank rates and mark-up has assumed the proportion of a crucial national issue for the country, and it certainly looks to become the core matter in the forthcoming FPCCI elections. There seems to be a near-consensus that the present situation is ringing alarm bells around the industrial and business houses across the country. The emergence of China and India as the giants leaving other developing countries way behind is the burning topic. The main thrust of the business and industry is the denial of level-playing field to them compared to some other emerging nations like next-door China.

Mian Misbah-ur-Rehman, a former LCCI president and noted figure of Lahore, who has been put up as a joint candidate for the coveted position of President FPCCI in the coming polls, is completely focusing on this very vital problem. He told PAGE that the bank mark-up issue and inconsistent policies in this regard were casting a crippling blow to the national economy and resulting in the dwindling exports. He sounded a warning that the situation, if not tackled now, would gradually worsen in the coming years.

He said the coming FPCCI polls and its future strategy is going rally round this vital issue. "The way the things are presently managed, it seems the dice is heavily loaded against the national interests. There is urgent need to bring remedial measures before it is too late. FPCCI and all its affiliated units would have to join hands to get a more rational policy implemented in this regard." These views were unanimously endorsed by a former FPCCI chief Jameel Maghoo as well as the heads of Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Faisalabad, Bahawalpur and many other chambers of the country. They all want the banks to reverse their current illogical and ill-advised policy on the bank interest, which was adversely affecting the industry and business and making their businesses uneconomical.

Mian Abuzar Shad, Chairman Pakistan Industrial Traders Associations Front (PIAF), told PAGE that Pakistan was currently fighting a losing battle for survival in the highly competitive export market. This was largely due to the fallout of high mark-up rates and the unrealistic policies of the banks. "Look up at all other countries like China, UK, India and other countries and you will find the snag in our policy. Nowhere is the double-digit markup applicable as in the case of Pakistan." Where it is going to lead us is not hard to guess, he said. China built up its huge export potential with favorable markup and other incentives to flood their goods everywhere on most competitive rates. Now with a foreign exchange reserve of $ 998 billion, they are aiming to reach out at a figure of $ 3000 billion in 10 years time to completely wipe out any semblance of competition by weaker competitors.

India too is following suit. Only few giants like those countries would hold sway and this should serve as a wake-up call for our policy makers, he declared. He said the situation at present is the high markup coupled with the burden of sales tax and other levies and this heavy burden was forcing the business houses go out of business, affecting their productivity. There is a dire need to bring balance in the policies of the government if it wishes to reverse this trend. He said the banks instead of playing a role of bridge had become a tool of profiteering showing hefty profits but at the cost of destroying the growth of economy. There is also a dire need to bring a halt to this policy.


Meanwhile, Progressive Businessmen Forum (PBF) nominated Mian Misbahur Rehman as its presidential candidate for forthcoming FPCCI elections. The announcement was made at a press conference, which was attended by business leaders from all over the country. They reposed full confidence in Mian Misbahur Rehman and appreciated his leadership qualities.

Mian Misbahur Rehman had already proved his metal as President Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry in 2004-05. All the business leaders including LCCI President Shahid Hassan Sheikh, Vice President Mubasher Sheikh, Siraj Teli, Zubair Motiwala, Ghazanffar Bilour, Jamil Mehboob Magoon, Mian Tajamal Hussain, Mian Mohammad Ashraf, Mohsin Bukhori, Mian Anjum Nisar, Sheikh Mohammad Asif, former LCCI Vice President Aftab Ahmad Vohra, Chairman PIAF Mian Abuzar Shad, former FPCCI Vice President Mehmood Ahmad and candidate for the additional scat from Lahore Irfan Qaiser.

While elaborating the happenings of past few months, Jamil Mehboob Magoon told the newsmen that the Chairman of the Business Forum during his last so many utterances always claimed that whosoever has 85 per cent majority would be his presidential candidate, but contrary to his claims he influenced the present management of the Free 1 to change the sequence of elections for A Class and B Class Associations. For the last 55 years the elections for A Class Associations were held ahead of B Class but this time elections of B Class would be held ahead of A Class. The Returning Officer has been changed and both the decisions were taken at the Managing Committee meeting which even lacks quorum.

Chaman Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Pakistan Carpet Manufacturers Association were not included in the final fist. "By the Grace of Almighty Allah, in A Class Associations, Progressive Businessmen Forum commands majority. A majority of chambers in Punjab has already pledged their support for Mian Misbahur Rehman while Mr Ilyas Bilour enjoys majority in NWFP. In Balochistan, both the groups have equal votes of chambers and if Chaman chamber is included the PBF will have the majority while some of the AJK chambers have also promised support. This way Mian Misbahur Rehman is all set to win the elections with thumping majority," he claimed.