–Prime Minister Imran holds meetings with PSX, other business delegations, tells them govt wants to promote and protect investments
–Govt, PSX agree on need to broaden the tax base, put end to illegal transactions
–PM says govt would bridge trade gap
KARACHI: With Pakistan being mired in economic crisis, Prime Minister Imran Khan arrived in Karachi on Sunday to assure the business community of the government’s commitment to “promote and protect investment in the country”.
The PM, who is on a day-long visit to the port city, met various members of the business community, including Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) delegation, to “seek their advice for the betterment of national economy”.
“The [incumbent] government has brought a different mindset. We want to ensure promulgation of businesses and investment and want to offer protection for the same. We want to bring stability to the market. This is why I have come to you for advice,” the prime minister was quoted as saying.
He further said the foreign investors were investing their capital in the country because there existed a huge potential for investment.
The PSX delegation, headed by Suleman Mehdi, congratulated the PM on assumption of the office and “lauded the efforts by government’s economic team for economic stability”.
The delegation apprised the PM on various matters regarding the stock market and put forward the proposals for financial stability, most of which were accepted by the PM. The delegation assured that they would extend all-out support to the government for its financial policies.
However, they conveyed their reservations to the PM regarding high taxes on equity markets, which were creating a “problem” for the stock market in Pakistan.
A delegation member, Aqeel Kareem Dhehdi, reportedly urged PM Imran to appoint “competent” member as the chairman of the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) as the incumbent chairman, Khalid Mirza, was not “suitable” for the post.
During the meeting, both sides agreed on the need for the government to broaden the tax base and for PSX to make better use of IT in the stock market. They also concurred on the need to put a stop to illegal transactions.
The delegation pledged its full support for the government’s fiscal policy and presented its recommendations for continued financial stability in the country.
The PM also agreed to reduce the advance tax of 0.02 per cent on purchase and sale of shares (both sides) to 0.01 per cent; however, he then considered its abolishment at the request of the PSX chairman.
The meeting was attended by Finance Minister Asad Umar, Planning Minister Khusro Bakhtiar, Water Resources Minister Faisal Vawda among others.
FPCCI DELEGATION CALLS ON PM:
The prime minister reiterated his resolve to steer the country out of the difficult times in a meeting with a delegation of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) and maintained that the answer to economic woes was “an investor-friendly environment”.
He said the government had fully focused on bridging the gap between imports and exports and assured that there would be no difficulty in running a business. The unemployment issue could be overcome by imparting skills to the youth, he said during the meeting.
He said the government wanted uniform development of the whole country and eradication of poverty. Pakistan would progress when the environment for business and investment was conducive, he added.
‘GOVT TO BRIDGE TRADE GAP’
In a separate meeting with a delegation of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the prime minister assured the government would eradicate unemployment through expansion of industries and would cap the gap between imports and exports.
During the meeting, different issues concerning industries, their expansion, gas supply, exports and small and medium enterprises came under discussion, as the PM urged the industrialists to give further suggestions for promotion of industry.
On his arrival, the PM was received by Governor Imran Ismail. In a one-on-one meeting, they discussed the ongoing development projects in the province besides political situation.
PM’s second visit to the financial hub of the country has come amid economic volatility that took a toll on stock markets and the rupee amid finance minister’s claims of ‘all is well’ with the economy.
In a single week, the capital market recorded a drop of more than 1,900 points, largest weekly fall in last 67 weeks, owing to more than expected rise in benchmark interest, fear of devaluation, rumours of cabinet shuffle and falling foreign exchange reserves, hinting thick clouds hovering on the country’s economy.
Similarly, the rupee has been failing to stand its ground against the US dollar for over a year now. Since December last year, the currency had cumulatively depreciated by 29.5 per cent.
Last month, the rupee weakened by 10.24 per cent against the dollar in the inter-bank market, touching an all-time low of Rs 139, at a time when the government is headed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout.