Monday September 25, 2023

Current economic situation threat to country: ICCI

By Our Correspondent
August 01, 2022

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) Sunday asked all the political parties to take the current economic situation very seriously and find an amicable solution.

In the first of its move, the business community of the federal capital has decided to take the lead in putting pressure on political leaders to devise a “Charter of Economy,” to ensure consistency in the economic policies irrespective of political change.

Ex-presidents and senior leaders of the ICCI held a press conference at the National Press Club and announced that the ICCI will hold an “All Parties Conference for Revival of Economy” on August 6.

Muhammad Shakeel Munir, President ICCI, said the grave economic situation was nothing short of a threat to the stability of the country. “The current economic meltdown is clear to you all. Everybody is worried; the whole nation is under stress,” Munir said, adding, “But the most serious problem is that multilateral donors, as well as friendly countries, are reluctant to help Pakistan and this is a clear sign that a massive storm for the economy has arrived.”

He said apart from energy shortage, high inflation and heavy debts the country was facing, there were many things which were not visible to the general public and their chain reaction could have serious consequences for the overall retail end, which will eventually hurt the consumers.

The ICCI president said the restrictions imposed by the State Bank of Pakistan upon the Letter of Credits (LC) and sharp declining foreign currency reserves could lead to a situation where goods and items will be in short supply in the markets.

“Such a situation will lead to public outcry and law and order situation mainly in the urban areas where the economy is totally based on consumerism,” he said. He announced that in the wake of ground realities, the ICCI had decided to reach out to all the decision makers and seek a solution to the economic crisis. “We are organising an All Parties Conference (APC) in this regard on August 6, Saturday to highlight these issues with the decision makers,” he said.

Khalid Iqbal Malik, former president of ICCI and Group Chairman, said the conference was an apolitical event to bring them all [political parties] on one page because the current situation could lead to threats to the stability of the country.

“We want everyone, including the business community, politicians, general public, and even the state institutions, on one page to seek a way out and ensure that such a situation for the economy does not happen again.” Malik added, “We are not into any political great game nor are we here to extend support to any party.”

He said, “There is a need to reduce this political polarization and bring all the parties in the Parliament and the provincial assemblies on one stage to discuss the way forward and steer the country out of the economic crisis.”

The ICCI has already started discussions with several economists seeking their input and the collective thought of experts will be presented at the conference.

Zubair Malik highlighted the importance of the conference and said the situation demanded everybody to play their part to get the country out of the current situation. He said the country was already facing an economic emergency and among other things, there was a need to reform the attitude of bureaucracy and the FBR.

“This is the first step by the ICCI to raise a non-political and technical voice and like all citizens, it was our responsibility as a business community to come forward and help find a solution,” he said. He announced that the technical suggestions finalized at the end of the Revival of Economy Conference will be shared with all other chambers of the country and the FPCCI, as well as the provincial governments.

The ICCI is confident that the deliberations of the conference will be implemented without political prejudice for the betterment of the economy. “We want all political parties to understand that changes in the government do not mean changes in economic policies,” Zubair Malik said.

He said consistency of policies was one of the key demands of local and foreign investors from all governments in Pakistan. The past presidents present on the occasion included Ijaz Abbasi, Amir Waheed, Ahmed Waheed, Shaban Khalid, and other senior office-bearers of the ICCI.