Business tycoons and Pakistan’s leading business magnates called on the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday night, to record their concerns about the country’s sharply declining economy, and the government’s inadequate response at the persistently weakening situation that is crippling the economic drivers of Pakistan’s growth.
The major theme of the grievances recorded by the business fraternity was the PTI-led government’s inability to take action beyond verbal assurances and pledges. The big businessmen protested that the promises of the government are not in line with its actions.
Top business leaders of the country call on Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Bajwa to convey their serious concerns about Pakistan’s stagnating economy. Business community is not happy with the economic policies of PTI govt and wants change of course pic.twitter.com/2K4gNBcF8q
— Murtaza Ali Shah (@MurtazaViews) October 3, 2019
Sources reveal that the businessmen present at the meeting including Mian Mansha, former President of the FPCCI Zubair Tufail, Hussain Dawood, Ali Jameel, Arif Habib, Ali Mohammad Tabba, Javed Chinoy, Siraj Qasim Teli, Aqeel Karim Dhedi, Zubair Motiwala, Ijaz Gohar, Saqib Shirazi, and other textile magnates.
The sources added that a delegation of these business tycoons is also likely to meet with Prime Minister Imran Khan. The business tycoons criticized the activities launched by the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) against them and added that the public sector is gripped with a fear that has dissuaded all public sector employees from resolving their grievances.
Business Delegation Meets COAS
Sources close to the meeting revealed that the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa heard the grievances of a delegation of 16-20 business tycoons, and assured them of his assistance. He pledged that he will attempt to find a solution to resolve their challenges as early as possible.
The sources added that the Chief of Army Staff also shared an idea of forming an internal committee, consisting of military officers, who will be assigned to work towards resolving the complaints of the delegation as quickly as possible.
“A high-level delegation of Pakistani businessmen will call on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday to take the army chief into confidence over the problems being faced by the business community..” https://t.co/wNh0JHGy2b
— Raza Ahmad Rumi (@Razarumi) October 2, 2019
The delegation led by Pakistan’s leading business magnates approached the COAS at a dinner reception, which continued during the late hours on Wednesday night. General Bajwa strongly advised the members of the delegation to cooperate with the government’s policies and to avoid collaborating with anti-government forces.
Speaking to the big businessmen of Pakistan, the Army Chief said that love for Pakistan dominates all hearts, and the country needs its businessmen to steer it into the future. He praised the services and contributions made by the business community, and stressed that their efforts will allow Pakistan to move forward towards growth and development.
The businessmen complained that the FBR is pushing the businesses to maximize their revenues, alongside the increasing costs of undertaking business activities, which have rendered corporate activities economically unviable.
The Army Chief consoled the business community and stressed that he understands their grievances. The delegates from the business community did not attempt to shroud their frustration and anger at the government’s tepid attitude towards economic reforms, and conveyed to General Bajwa that given the prevailing situation, their business units are collapsing one after the other.
The businessmen stated that if the economy is not remedied, their businesses will collapse and shut down, which will lead to widespread unemployment and losses. They stressed that their businesses are linked with the livelihood of many employees, laborers, and other small businesses. The businessmen maintained that their businesses were a product of years of hard work and dedication, and they had been steadfast in expansion throughout the economic conditions that prevailed during different eras.
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The business tycoons urged Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa to intervene in the situation, and propose a remedy for the failing economy. They said that if immediate measures are not taken, the situation is likely to deteriorate further, which will aggravate the problems.
It is important to note that in his previous meeting with traders held in Karachi a few months ago, Gen Qamar Bajwa had assured the delegation of influential traders that he would consult the government to resolve their challenges. He had asked the delegation to contact him if they face any challenges in the future.
Increased Costs of Business Activity
Sources reveal that the business community recorded the challenges created by the stagflation, with the GDP growth currently at its lowest, and inflation constantly on the rise, which has led to a halt in economic growth and activities. The businessmen complained that the FBR is pushing the businesses to maximize their revenues, alongside the increasing costs of undertaking business activities, which have rendered corporate activities economically unviable.
The sources revealed that the business community complained that economic activities are gradually coming to a standstill, triggering serious concerns across the corporate sector. The business tycoons are largely burdened due to the heightened policy rate and exchange rate, which has given birth to uncertainties, making it difficult to take crucial investment decisions.
— Kamran Khan (@AajKamranKhan) October 2, 2019
The Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) figures reveal a downfall, while multiple sectors of the large scale manufacturing have witnessed a declining growth from the last few months. The textile sector, one of Pakistan’s leading markets, has been burdened due to heightened taxation.
The businessmen informed the COAS that the GDP growth is headed towards a downfall, however, the revenues continue to increase, which is bizarre given the laws of economics. They said that 90% of the increase in revenues has come from the existing taxpayers, and this taxation regime has heightened the cost of business activities.
They complained that the rate of corruption has increased instead of being reduced, and they feared that after losing the export market, they are highly likely to lose the domestic market to imports if the rates of energy and power are not reduced. They maintained that as opposed to eliminating corruption and losses in the sectors of energy and power, the government has transferred the burden onto the businesses.
The businessmen also highlighted their concerns over unusual activities undertaken by the FBR officials, who have been calling and making uninformed visits. Multiple businessmen came forward to complain about the difficulties of obtaining money from the financial institution for running or expanding their businesses. They complained that the FBR has refused to facilitate them, citing the issue of the depleted dollar reserves of Pakistan.
“National security is intimately linked to eco while prosperity is function of balance in security needs & economic growth. Aim of various discussions and seminars was to bring stake holders at one platform to formulate recommendations for a synergistic way forward”, COAS. (2of2) pic.twitter.com/IvV70ZZKo9
— DG ISPR (@OfficialDGISPR) October 3, 2019
Sources reveal that one of the businessmen who dined with the Army Chief Gen Bajwa informed the media that Hammad Azhar, Federal Minister for Economic Affairs, apprised the business delegation that the IMF did not ask Pakistan to increase the interest rate. Hammad was quoted as saying that the decision to increase interest rates was taken as a remedy to the declining economic growth. However, Hammad maintained that the government is willing to revise the interest rates when the economic situation is improved.