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1- DECLINE TREND OF RICE CROPPED AREA
2- ENCOURAGING PRIVATE SECTOR
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IMPACT OF WTO ON PHARMA SECTOR
4- THE DEVELOPMENT OF GWADAR
5- THE AUTO PARTS BUSINESS

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ENCOURAGING PRIVATE SECTOR

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From SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI, Islamabad

Oct 18 - 24, 2004
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President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz have pledged all out facilitation to the Private sector in driving Pakistan on the path of high economic growth. Addressing a big gathering of businessmen/investors and industrialists in Rawalpindi last week they emphasized that the government and the entrepreneurs in the private sector should move in tandem to diversify and boost country's export by focusing attention on all sectors.

In his 15 minute speech at the businessmen convention attended by leaders of business and industrialists community, the President dwelt at length of all the related issues. He counted all the areas that were directly or indirectly related to the economy; he listed textile, engineering, agriculture, construction and housing, export and import, human resources and IT. He said that Pakistan was blessed with unprecedented potential in all the areas and their exploitation could guarantee quick economic growth. He said the government was taking all possible measures to ensure complete protection to the private sector.

The President said that agriculture was backbone of the national economy but it could not give desired result without active participation of the industrial sector. He stressed the need for more industrialization in the country to overcome poverty and unemployment. He in particular mentioned Punjab's newly established industrial estate, Sundar, and asked other provinces to follow the suit.

The President said that Pakistan could do much better on export front if the exporters focus on new markets. He said that exports target of $ 13.7 billion was much less than country's potential and wanted substantial increase in it in the coming years.

General Pervez Musharraf said our focus should be on small and medium enterprises and agro-based industry for the overall development of the country and poverty alleviation. He said we have to identity areas where we can have competitive edge. He said we have to bring about harmony in our education system as well because it also plays an important role in the growth and development of the society.

The President said that textile sector is playing an important role in the exports of the country. He emphasized the need for quality to boost country's exports. He said textile industry is the backbone of our country and we have to compete in the world market with better quality. The exports targets have to be revised to much higher level. The President said that the country has the potential of achieving the export target of fifty billion dollars. Mentioning challenges of WTO Regime, the President said we could be able to survive in a competitive environment with more focused approach, enhanced quality and efficiency in every section of the economy.

The president commended the efforts of the manufacturing sector. He said the engineering sector did not receive the attention it deserved. He said without industrialization, country cannot achieve the growth of overall progress and prosperity. He said the engineering sector will receive the attention it deserves, he added.

The President was of the view that with focus on value addition in textile, particularly clothing, can tremendously increase the exports of the country. About the strategy of poverty alleviation, the President said that agricultural and agro-based industry will play an important role in this regard as majority of our population lives in the rural areas. He said in the face of fast growing population, yield intensification is needed to fill the gap between demand and supply. He said we must produce more in order to meet the requirement of the country through diversification in the agriculture sector.

 

Which the Prime Minister said that the government will do everything to resolve the problems of the business community and facilitate them. "Foreign investment will be encouraged in the country." He said investors coming from abroad on the invitation of the local entrepreneurs will be granted visas on arrival at the airports. He said continuation and consistency are hallmark of the government policies as given by the President. He said we will provide level playing field to all the sectors of the economy, but the private sector has also a role to play in this regard.

The Prime Minister emphasized that we should expand demand generation and find new markets. He assured the business community of government assistance and facilities in the construction of infrastructure. He mentioned oil and gas, IT sector and construction of roads. He said it will be government's endeavour to promote engineering sector which has much more scope. He also highlighted the importance of the services sector as this sector will provide infrastructure for growth.

The outcome of the moot in which a large number of manufactures, industrialists, investors and businessmen from across the country participated and freely asked question from both the President and the Prime Minister helped a lot to understand each other's point of view and proved a source of encouragement to the business community from the comments and remarks of the participants after the meeting it was clear that the private sector is satisfied with the way the government is proceeding ahead with the implementation of its economic agenda. The businessmen seem to be fully motivated to play an active role in the economic development of the country. This is because the government has rightly come to the conclusion that it is the private sector that has to act as engine of growth and the role of the government should be restricted to facilitation alone. In line with this policy, the government not only embarked upon an ambitious programme of privatization but also introduced bitter but necessary reforms in different sectors of the economy. The approach is paying back as there are clear indications that investment both by local and foreign investors is increasing and the economic activity is picking up. Various fiscal incentives including investment-friendly interest rate and an unprecedented increase in credit to the private sector are producing the desired results. The country succeeded, last year, in attaining a higher than targeted growth in real GDP, powered by stellar growth in large scale manufacturing and a continuing robust performance in services; a double digit growth in per capita income and sharp increase in consumption of electricity and gas are reflective of rising levels of economic activity. No doubt, the complexion of the economy has changed and apart from the fact that the country has decided to say goodbye to the IMF programme this year, it is no more vulnerable to external shocks. However, despite major successes on the socio economic front, experts say the progress so far made is not commensurate with the country's considerable potential. Besides maintaining and building on the macroeconomic stability, there is a need to take steps to ensure that the benefits of these gains are seen and felt by the common man, which is not the case at the moment. This means initiation of tangible measures to tackle the problems of growing unemployment and poverty. We are also spending too little on education, human resource development and research and development and as a result may not be able to maintain the tempo of growth in the years to come.