President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President All Karachi Industrial Alliance (AKIA), Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and former provincial minister, Mian Zahid Hussain on Friday expressed deep concern over increasing hunger in the country. The government should take immediate step to arrest malnutrition otherwise it can result in heavy political and economic price, he said.
Mian Zahid Hussain also called for legislation ensuring that food security is the basic right of every person in the country so that we don’t have a weak and unfit generation.
Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that Pakistan is an agricultural country but hunger has become a problem because of the price of necessary food items. UNICEF has recently said that half of the children are facing hunger which has an impact on their physical and mental development.
The former minister noted that Pakistan is among the seven countries where a large number of children are facing hunger, child mortality is rampant while a large number of women die during pregnancy.
He said that hunger can be controlled by provision of economic opportunities, proper distribution of wealth, reduced prices of agricultural items and giving surplus production to the needy. Pakistan ranks 106th among 119 countries on the hunger index while India is three notches up, he said, adding that many countries have conducted studies on the idea of soup kitchens and found it unfeasible to combat hunger in the long run.
Langars are a temporary relief for the poorest while many avoid going there for food despite the need for reasons like respect and honor. He noted that undernourishment can be challenged with vocational education, provision of jobs, and other economic interventions.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that Brazil initiated a programme in 2003 and pulled 20 million people out of poverty which must be studied by our policymakers.
Despite govt best efforts the economy remains in doldrums: Mian Zahid Hussain
President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President All Karachi Industrial Alliance (AKIA), Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and former provincial minister, Mian Zahid Hussain on Monday said the economy is far from satisfactory despite the best efforts by the government. The economy is going down at a rapid pace while inflation has bewildered the masses, he said.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that masses do not need statistics regarding impressive gains but the food which is their basic right.
Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that masses are being told that the economy is getting better, the industry has picked up again, confidence has returned, trade and fiscal deficit has been contained, stock market and the currency have been stabilized while tax net and revenue has increased. However, economic managers have maintained silence over exports and any relief provided to the masses reeling under merciless price hike.
The former minister noted that the situation is different on the ground; over 300 factories have been closed in Peshawar only while thousands of units have been closed in Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and other cities leaving millions unemployed.
Those who are supposed to run the economy have taken to the streets, cotton has been damaged by 33 percent pushing the textile industry into crisis, sugar exports are down by 54 percent, large scale manufacturing is sliding, SMEs are laying off workers and services sector is on way to termination.
He said that markets are deserted and a shop fetching fifty thousand in monthly rent is now available for fifteen thousand but no one is ready to take it. Edibles, necessities, transport, CNG, and everything is now out of the reach of masses who are sacrificing everything for stability but to no avail.
Cotton imports a burden on textile sector: Mian Zahid Hussain
President Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum (PBIF), President All Karachi Industrial Alliance (AKIA), Senior Vice Chairman of the Businessmen Panel of FPCCI and former provincial minister, Mian Zahid Hussain on Wednesday said fixing the target for cotton production is not enough which should be backed by supportive steps. Cotton growers should be supported to discourage them from switching to other crops and maintain area under cultivation which is shrinking otherwise it will be damaging for the textile sector, he said.
Talking to the business community, the veteran business leader said that Pakistan must import five million bales to keep market stable which will increase the import bill and cost of doing business for the textile sector while it can hit the exports. He said that cotton accounts for 4.5 percent of the agricultural GDP, one percent of national GDP and it covers seventy percent cost in textile production.
Mian Zahid Hussain said that reduction in area under cultivation, pest attacks, substandard seed, and pesticides, water scarcity, low profit and high cost of inputs will reduce cotton output by 33 percent which will reduce GDP by two percent.
The former minister noted that pink bollworm and whitefly wastes almost four million bales due to the substandard seed which should be tackled.
He noted that the textile industry is earning thirteen billion dollars of foreign exchange and providing employment to ten million people therefore it should be given preference by policymakers. Pakistan is at the bottom of ten major cotton-producing countries while the area under cultivation has been reduced by 29 percent since 2012. India will produce 30 million bales while Pakistan will produce hardly ten million bales during the current year.
Pakistan and India have identical weather but the later is using latest machinery which has boosted the production, he said, adding that growers are selling cotton for Rs 90 per kg while textile mills are getting it for Rs 230 per kg which is damaging both. The difference is pocketed by the middlemen which is not profit but exploitation which should be discouraged. He also called for reforms to make Pakistan Central Cotton Committee an effective institution to improve situation.