Split emerges within FPCCI

ISLAMABAD: Leaders of the business community have criticized the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) for failing to play its part in arresting the decline in exports.

They demanded the government should take the business community on board to stop the fall in exports.

Mian Anjum Nisar, chairman of the FPCCI’s Businessmen Panel, asked the government to reverse the downward trend in exports on an urgent basis.

“There are issues that need to be addressed regarding the tariff policy… monetary policy and lack of initiatives by the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP),” he said.

He said the investment in export-oriented sectors has remained disturbingly low. Cut-throat competition with emerging regional players, such as Bangladesh and Vietnam, has made margins fairly unattractive, he added.

As a result of low investment, exporters are not geared up for changing consumer preferences in partner countries, he said.

FPCCI President Zubair Tufail bristled at the allegation that the apex chamber has not done enough to advance the business community’s interests. “Perhaps Mr Nisar is not well aware of the facts,” he told Dawn.

“Only two days ago, Mr Nisar sat next to me at the FPCCI’s managing committee’s meeting and remained silent throughout. I don’t know why he has woken up suddenly to say these things,” he said.

He pointed towards the position taken by the apex chamber in matters of energy pricing and stuck-up refunds. “Only a few days ago, we had a meeting with the commerce minister for almost two hours,” he said. He claimed that the minister called him afterwards to say that the prime minister had agreed to meet an FPCCI delegation next week to further these discussions.

He said the positions that the FPCCI has advanced include a uniform electricity rate for the industry across the country, reduction of power tariffs for the industry to Rs9 per unit from an average of Rs12 in Punjab and around Rs14 in Karachi, as per his calculations, as well as a reduction in gas tariffs, although no quantum has been advanced by the chamber for gas.

“We have also demanded immediate settlement of all outstanding refunds of sales tax, income tax and drawback of local taxes and levies. Today, the commerce minister also informed me that the prime minister has ordered that 50 per cent of the agreed monthly amount from the export package will be released by next week,” he added.