Government urged to look beyond textile, leather sectors

It is high time that Pakistan break away from past trade stereotypes and look beyond textile and leather sectors and invest in other areas, said Secretary General (Federal) of Businessmen Panel (BMP) and former Chairman Standing Committee of the FPCCI on Horticulture and Food Exports, Ahmad Jawad.

With eight more years to go under the GSP Plus status, Pakistan's business community must develop value-added sectors, he emphasized. It may recall in leading economies like Brazil, India, Israel, USA agriculture sector is the federal subject because they know the importance of this sector which can heavily contributed in their countries GDP, Jawad added.

He said after the announcement of Saudi Arabia funding of more than six billion dollars and expected some funds from China as well in the upcoming visit of Prime Minster Imran Khan, now I think Finance Ministry should wait and refrain themselves to adopt IMF package once again.

Jawad says Imran Khan promised in his election campaign that in Naya Pakistan, it will be a shameful for us that through some dictation we may increase electricity and gas prices, it will be shameful for us that we may devalue our currency under some IMF arrangement now the same thing already happens and that pressure passed to the people of Pakistan. Now the government already did these measures for the IMF funding in advance, and in the presence of recent Saudis Arabia attractive package what's the use to go to IMF again. He lamented every finance minister of this country when assumed the office stated a common statement " that last government have put the economy in crises now we are to going to IMF and this is country last program" that I listened since from Gen Musharraf government". Yet we didn't see any concrete policy from the economic managers of this country, borrowing and spending is such easy thing and any one can do it? Where is the practicality to deal economy with your available resources; he questioned?

He however further viewed that the 18th Amendment of the constitution has added to confusion in the taxation system and damage country agriculture sector as well. It has divided taxation system in an unnatural way hampering documentation of the economy, helping the undocumented economy and increasing the cost of doing business for the business community, it said. The amendment has resulted in a unique Value Added Tax (VAT) in Pakistan in which goods are taxed by federal authorities while services are taxed by the provincial authorities resulting confusion. Federal and provincial revenue authorities have their own conflicting definitions for goods and services which results in disputes, litigation and loss of revenue, he added.

He said that the orchestrators of the 18th Amendment were not concerned about the welfare of the masses. They were concerned about politics otherwise corrective measures would have been taken after the realization of the devastating consequences of the move on dozens of the sectors. "This is not the way that through NFC award centre will provide funds to provinces and they enjoy it". Similarly after the 18th amendment, the agriculture sector doesn't also perform well. Every province has its own priorities, which are why this sector doesn't contribute properly in our GDP.

Jawad said performance of agriculture sector had declined particularly after the 18th amendment including Parliament had done nothing for the agriculture sector in the last three years. Before the18th amendment, he said, the federal government used to spend Rs 60 billion on agriculture sector but now the provincial governments have become indifferent towards the rural areas. The Seed management has also become provincial subject. To amend and replace the obsolete Seed Act 1976, the Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments introduced a seed amendment bill in their assemblies. But the process came to a halt after the federal minister for food security said that all the provincial assemblies have passed a special resolution authorizing the federal government to amend the Seed Act 1976 and retain it as a federal subject. Taking seed affairs back to the centre was seen a development of great significance.