LAHORE - President Dr Arif Alvi has said that provision of conducive business environment was one of the top priorities of the government. He said that government was also focusing on poverty alleviation, environmental protection, investment in human resources, SME sector and particularly on agriculture.

He was speaking at the LCCI Ambassadors Dinner– 2019 at President House. LCCI President Almas Hyder presented the address of welcome while PM Advisor on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, LCCI Senior Vice President Khawaja Shahzad Nasir, Vice President Faheem-ur-Rehman Saigal, former presidents, Executive Committee members, ambassadors & representatives of around 50 countries and high government officials attended the ceremony.

Arif Alvi said that the government was negotiating bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements with a number of countries so that access of Pakistani goods could largely be ensured to target markets. Through SAFTA and GSP Plus scheme, the exports of Pakistan would be facilitated to reach South Asian and European countries. In order to assist the exporters in their marketing efforts and outreach to the global market, TDAP has been directed to undertake various export promotional activities like trade exhibitions and delegations. He hoped that due to these initiatives, Pakistan would soon succeed in bridging its ever widening trade gap. 

“We are aware of our potential and challenges. Our first priority is to make Pakistan self-reliant and economically strong country. Our system has been plagued due to many problems since long. If we want to place Pakistan among the top ranked countries in the world then we have to take some tough decisions otherwise the coming generations will not forgive us”, the President said. He said that joint efforts were required for supremacy of law, business friendly environment, peace, agriculture & industrial development, education, employment, economic growth and mutual understanding. “All the segments of society must cooperate with each other. I hope that like always the private sector will play their role in befitting manner”, he said.

Almas Hyder said that Ambassadors’ Dinner was primarily arranged to reinforce working relations with the heads of foreign missions and also to strengthen ties for establishing closer and deeper contacts. He said that Pakistan has made new beginning under the leadership of Prime Minister Imran Khan. ‘Change’ is the buzz word and the entire system of governance is being revamped. Pakistan’s economy is well on the way to recover from transitory hiccups. By channeling the country’s resources into savings, investments and industrialization, the present government will put Pakistan on the track of economic growth. Along with macroeconomic indicators, the situation of current account is also getting better’.

The LCCI President said that considerable rise in foreign remittances, successful foreign policy and various austerity measures of present government indicate that our deficits are coming down to a manageable range. He expected that government would soon succeed in transforming the economy from consumption led growth to investments and exports led growth. He mentioned that Lahore was famous for its hospitality, rich culture and lively atmosphere that add more attraction for the national and international tourists. The economy of Lahore has a diversified base spanning from manufacturing industry, engineering, pharmaceuticals, steel, chemicals, telecommunication and information technology etc. Almas Hyder said that Lahore has prospered in almost all spheres of life. Lahore houses regional offices or head offices of leading national and multi-national companies which were doing well. Lahore, being the hub of Punjab province offers great opportunities to foreign investors. He said that Pakistan was known for its textiles, sports goods, surgical items, carpets and agro-based products like rice, kinnow and mango. It was high time to project Pakistan in international market for its engineering sector. He said that Pakistani companies were producing quality engineering goods including home appliances like refrigerators, air conditioners, washing machines, electric motors and fans. “We have the capacity to export engineering goods at competitive prices to the markets of Africa and Middle East. This is the new thrust of our government and the policies are being aligned”, he said.

“Similarly, both public and private sectors are collaborating to improve country’s Doing Business ranking and Global Competitiveness Index. Government is taking all the necessary steps to improve its fiscal and monetary performance while introducing tariff rationalization at a wide scale”, the LCCI President added and said that the situation on environment and human rights is also improving. Pakistan has taken a number of corrective measures both at planning and implementation stages to combat environmental issues. In next couple of years, the environmental health and ecosystem will certainly improve as federal government has launched countrywide ‘Clean & Green Pakistan’ drive to tackle the challenges of rising pollution and global warming.

He said that the Government of Pakistan has taken a number of appreciable initiatives over the years to ensure compliance to 27 core conventions by enacting new laws and developing new institutions. The European Parliament has expressed satisfaction on the progress achieved by Pakistan in this connection. CPEC has entered into next phase where there are enormous opportunities for local and foreign investors. Special Economic Zones are being established and Pakistan has sufficiently improved the required infrastructure.