The business community has expressed optimism that the acting State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Governor, Murtaza Syed, will initiate a consultation process with the stakeholders on budget preparation.

In a statement on Friday, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Mian Nauman Kabir underlined that due to time constraints, the acting SBP governor “should visit LCCI at the earliest to have the business community’s feedback on the federal budget 2022-23”.

Office-bearers of the chamber were of the view that Syed assumed the SBP’s governor charge at a time when “the economy is passing through a critical moment”.

They voiced hope that the governor would devise new policies to meet the enormous economic challenges being faced by the country.

The office-bearers also highlighted the high mark-up rate, saying it was not only creating challenges for the industries but was also making Pakistani goods uncompetitive in the global market.

They said that the 12.25% policy rate would have dire consequences for the country’s economic growth.

“It will surely hinder the process of industrialisation and private sector growth,” they said, adding that Pakistan should bring its interest rate at par with the regional rates.

“There is a need for urgent measures to bring stability to the exchange rate to arrest the rupee devaluation as the excessive depreciation has resulted in inflation and has increased the cost of doing business.”

The central bank should also advocate for urgent tariff measures to restrict luxury and non-essential imports, they said.

“Furthermore, the option of implementing a currency swap arrangement with China from where our imports are worth more than $13 billion should also be analysed.”

“There is a need for a coherent National Economic Policy in which the SBP, private sector and relevant governmental departments are all on board,” the LCCI office-bearers emphasised.

The SBP should share its micro and macroeconomic vision with the business community, they said.

“In order to make exports to the untapped potential markets, formal banking channels should be established on a priority basis,” they added.

They also requested the central bank to devise a special mechanism for enhancing barter trade with Iran.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 7th, 2022.

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