The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry has welcomed Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s decision to form the National Economic Council (NEC) in a bid to tackle the financial crisis.
In a letter to Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, LCCI Chairman Mian Nauman Kabir said the formation of the National Economic Council is a step in the right direction, but the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry should also be incorporated into the NEC.
Kabir said that the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry highly appreciates the formation of the National Economic Council envisaged by the Prime Minister. He said it will be an excellent platform and will definitely play a pivotal role in improving the trajectory of national economic development.
The LCCI Chairman suggested that the National Economic Council should develop long-term policies/plans for at least 10 years, be provided with legal coverage, and an implementation mechanism should also be developed. He said an international trade framework should be established to monitor the country’s imports and exports and ensure they complement each other.
Kabir said there was a dire need to overhaul Pakistan’s energy mix by generating a large share of electricity from coal and renewable energy sources to minimize reliance on expensive imported fuels. He said that trade/trade policies should be set in such a way as to provide an enabling environment for the integration of local industry into the global value chain.
Kabir further said that Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif has taken charge at a critical time with a set of economic challenges. He said a team of experts made up of leading businessmen and experienced economic experts was inevitable.
He said only economically strong Pakistan can cope with all kinds of international pressures. Therefore, the “war on economic evils” should be launched instantly and the business community should be represented in the economic teams.
The LCCI President said that Pakistan is a resource-rich country and does not need any external financial assistance. He said that the economic weaknesses of any country give the opportunity to criticize others and the same thing happens in our case.
Kabir said political instability, below-mark foreign direct investment, high cost of doing business, politics on mega-projects like Kalabagh Dam and huge trade deficit have led to stagnant growth in Pakistan. He said Pakistan must solve these problems through good economic reforms.
He said that Pakistan has all the resources to become an economic giant but the only need is to set directions with zeal, courage and sincerity. He said Pakistan’s huge mineral resources can help get rid of economic ills. He said the country has one of the largest reserves of gold, copper and coal in the world.
He added that according to a rough estimate, the value of coal reserves in Pakistan is 187 times greater than Pakistan’s GDP and only 2% of Pakistan’s coal reserves can generate 20,000 MW of electricity for almost 50 years.
In addition to gold, copper and coal, the country has vast reserves of precious stones, gypsum, salt and marble, but instead of taking full advantage of these divine resources, most of the share is exported in raw form. He said that these resources should be used by the state instead of giving contracts to foreign companies for extraction. He also called for new technologies and training of human resources for the mining sectors.