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Thursday June 13, 2024

Depression strategy

By Mansoor Ahmad
April 02, 2023

LAHORE: Deep recession as being witnessed in Pakistan is always a lesson for common citizens and entrepreneurs to do away with practices that brought their country unbearable hardships. Pakistanis must rise up to the occasion and accept the challenge.

First lesson that the current situation gives us is to cut over consumption, to live a simpler life, to save our environment, to pay our due taxes, to reduce waste, and to improve our efficiency and productivity.

We somehow lost our way from prudent policies to pursue measures that were based on self-interest. Is it not a pity that none of our industries is efficient enough to have a say in global markets.

We produce textile products, cars, manufacture pharmaceuticals, auto parts, home appliances, motorcycles and are in information technology. None of these sectors have made any mark in the global markets.

If we look at our region, India is exporting textile products; its export of pharmaceuticals is higher than our peak textile exports, in auto parts its exports are above $20 billion. Pakistan at its peak produced a little less than 300,000 cars in one year.

In India, Maruti is exporting more cars than our total car production even at its peak. Then there are scores of other cars that are being exported.

India is one of the largest exporters of IT in the world. Its IT exports are seven times our total export.

About 25 years back, its IT exports were only 1 billion. Bangladesh is the second largest exporter of apparel in the world. Its pharmaceutical exports are much higher than our average exports of $200 million. It is an emerging player in IT and is locally producing solar panels which we do not.

We have similar culture as in India and Bangladesh, we have more resources than Bangladesh. We are a non-entity in global pharmaceutical exports. Our auto-parts exports are nominal despite the fact that we manufacture parts for five of the top ten car manufacturers in the world. India in 1997 was at our level in auto-parts’ exports.

Textiles and clothing share that 25 years back accounted for 2 percent of the global textile and clothing market has declined to around one percent. Deterioration in our share occurred over a period of 25 years and cannot be blamed on recent events.

The industry operated on crutches, and caves in whenever the support is withdrawn.

The textile leaders put all the blame on government policies, while the truth is that they failed to invest in upgrading technology.

At the top of that they falsely claim to have invested $5 billion in the last three years, while the documented truth that the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics provides is that it is less than $3 billion in the last five years.

Since the last five years, the textile millers have been claiming they will increase exports to new levels by establishing hundreds of garmenting units. No new garmenting unit worth its name has been established by the spinners. Total increase in textile and clothing exports was achieved by the existing units established years back mostly by small entrepreneurs.

To achieve a respectable status in the comity of nations, our planners and the entrepreneurs must speak truth and regain the confidence of at least our friends if not the adversaries.

Workers must improve productivity, businesses must upgrade technology in all fields to challenge outside producers that are instead challenging us in our domestic market. To achieve full success, transparency in state affairs is inevitable.