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Sunday June 23, 2024

Zardari makes impassioned plea for charter of economy

The PPP co-chairman says he is ready to talk to all political parties to bring them on board

By Jawwad Rizvi
June 08, 2023
PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari addresses a press conference held at CM House in Karachi, on May 11, 2022. — PPI
PPP Co-chairman Asif Ali Zardari addresses a press conference held at CM House in Karachi, on May 11, 2022. — PPI

LAHORE: Chairman Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Asif Ali Zardari said on Wednesday that Pakistan needed a Charter of Economy like the Charter of Democracy. “I will talk to all political parties to bring them on board for it. The Charter of Economy should be for fifty years, not for fifteen years as China did.” Addressing the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on Charter of Economy at Lahore regional office on Wednesday, the former president stressed the need for promoting, protecting and incentivizing local investors as foreign investors repatriate five times their investment.

“The PPP is with the business community; you give us your strong will and energy through a proper thought process. I assure you that the world of tomorrow is with you.” The former president of Pakistan elaborated that Pakistan needs $200 billion in foreign exchange reserves as $20 billion reserves were nothing. “Once foreign investors invest a dollar in Pakistan, they repatriate 5 dollars against the one dollar.” Criticizing one of the world’s highest mark-up rates in Pakistan, Zardari said that no one will be ready to invest in Pakistan with this high policy rate. Talking about the defence budget, he said that no one will question the defence expenditures if Pakistan was exporting 250 to 300 billion dollars worth of goods and services.

Further, Zardari said that it was not the government’s job to do business but rather to facilitate businesses. “If governments facilitate businesses and trade communities, they will earn profit and pay taxes. PPP believes in increasing taxes by growing public income.” Zardari, talking about his past government’s performance, mentioned that CPEC was brought to Pakistan by him. But unfortunately, some government-made trains and buses from the project can be built by any businessman and the private sector. “We in Karachi are running buses by the private sector,” he added. Talking about the expensive energy which is hindering the economic progress of the country, Zardari said that a historic agreement was made by his government on the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project with the cheapest rates. However, the country is now importing LNG from Qatar and then supplying it through gas pipelines. Similarly, in Sindh, the PPP government has been generating power from canals through run-of-the-water projects and the same could be done in Punjab, which has the largest capacity to do so. “I don’t believe generating hydel power from dams is meant for agricultural purposes,” he added.

Zardari said the PPP was being criticized for increasing the support prices of agricultural produce in Pakistan, but the approach behind increasing the prices was to increase production and make the country self-sufficient. Otherwise, from where can we get dollars to import agricultural produce to feed the public? he asked.

Zardari if Pakistan didn’t exist, we don’t exist; there is no value of a Pakistani passport if Pakistan did not have money. “There is no value in any passport in the world, even the US, if they don’t have money.” On the political scenario, the chairman PPP said that they offered a dialogue option to Chairman PTI Imran Khan. Zardari mentioned his past and that he was sentenced in Punjab jails for more than 8 years. Earlier, President FPCCI Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said that the Charter of Economy is the need of the hour. Benazir Bhutto signed the Charter of Democracy for the sustainability of democracy in the country.

In the same way, we have to sign the Charter of Economy to bring economic prosperity to the country. Economy should be the priority. Currently, Pakistan is facing problems like inflation and unemployment. The Charter of Economy is very important to overcome the problems. “We believe that by adopting the Charter of Economy, Pakistan will progress.” The FPCCI gave a presentation on the economy to Asif Ali Zardari. The former president was given a presentation comparing Pakistan with various world sectors to increase exports and for creating a policy for overseas Pakistanis, work on energy security and agriculture. Former President FPCCI and vice president SAARC Chamber of Commerce Mian Anjum Nisar requested former president Asif Ali Zardari to play his role in getting visas for exporters. Anjum said that it was hoped that when hydel power comes, problems will be solved, but the rates are too high. “Import substitution is very important. Inflation needs to be brought down. Food security issues are going up and there is a need to improve agricultural production. Taxes on local industry should be reduced, the economy will be strong if the industry runs,” Anjum added.