ISLAMABAD : President Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) Sheikh Amir Waheed has expressed graved concerns over 400 percent rise in Pakistan’s external and public debt during the last decade as the cost of rising debt servicing was taking a heavy toll on the overall economy while development and public welfare projects were badly suffering.
The President ICCI called upon the government to devise an out of the box strategy in consultation with private sector to rid the country of the need of heavy borrowings.
Sheikh Amir Waheed said that as per SBP data, Pakistan’s public debt was Rs.4.8 trillion in 2007 which has escalated to Rs.24 trillion in 2018 while its total debt and liabilities have surged to Rs.29.8 trillion by the end of June 2018. It showed the trend of reckless borrowings by the concerned authorities.
He said the rising debt servicing was consuming lot of financial resources due to which the country was unable to cope with the burning issues of poverty and rising unemployment. He said that debt servicing was consuming 41.8 percent of current expenditure of the country in 2012-13 which has gone up to 46.4 percent in 2017-18. This situation was leaving nominal financial resources for health, education and social sectors due to which common man was badly suffering.
The ICCI President lauded the current government’s austerity campaign as Pakistan was badly needed to control all unnecessary expenditures. He said there was still huge gap between revenue and expenditures of the country as Pakistan’s current account deficit during 2017-18 has risen to $18 billion which was a record deficit in the country’s history.
He urged that the government should control all unnecessary imports and formulate a new exports policy in consultation with private sector for increasing the exports of Pakistan up to the real potential. He was of the view that without promoting exports and reducing imports, it was not possible for the country to bring down the rising trade and current account deficit.
Senior Vice President Muhammad Naveed Malik and Vice President ICCI Nisar Mirza stressed that instead of relying on traditional markets for exports, government should fully cooperate with the private sector in exploring new exports markets.
They said that the government should sponsor private sector delegations to Africa, Central Asia and other non-traditional markets that would help in improving exports, reducing trade deficit and getting rid of heavy borrowings.