Published on May 24, 2022 5:42 p.m.
Luxury Goods Import Ban to Save $4 Billion and Support Local Industry
ISLAMABAD (Dunya News) – Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif said on Friday that banning the import of luxury and non-essential items would not only save $4 billion but would also support local industry, in addition to redress the social imbalance.
“The purpose of the ban (import of luxury items) – for a fixed period – is to save foreign exchange and bring stability. If we save $4 billion, it can meet all our edible oil needs… It’s like saving $4 billion,” the Prime Minister said addressing a group of businessmen.
He said poor people living in Gilgit Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa or Balochistan, struggling for their bread to eat, medicine to cure disease and clothes to wear, would feel neglected to see the elite enjoying the produce of imported luxury. However, banning the import of these items would resolve this social imbalance.
He said the import ban would support the local industry, there was also a need to cap the prices of these items under a certain formula.
The Prime Minister also urged the business community to come up with solutions to the current economic situation.
He told this meeting that in 2018, the dollar rate stood at Rs 115, which jumped to Rs 189 during the three and a half years of the previous government.
“When I took the oath, it (dollar) was at Rs 189. This rise of Rs 60-65 is not our fault,” he remarked.
He said after perceiving the success of the no-confidence motion against Imran Khan, the previous government cut oil prices despite the country facing a huge debt burden.
He said the overthrown government had not provided relief to the common man in sugar, flour or edible oil, nor carried out any agricultural or public welfare project with serious intent.
He said that with an 80% increase, the previous government secured Rs 22 trillion in loans over its 3.5 years.
Prime Minister Shehbaz said that despite the unprecedented support from a national institution, the previous government could not function, and recalled the mega-projects executed under the PML-N government, including CPEC, the end of load shedding and the installation of wind, solar and LNG energy. plants.
He said the nation wanted to know where the huge loans were being spent and whether excessive offloading was due to political chaos or corruption.
He said if the nation unites and makes a resolution, it could change the destiny of the country and cited the rebirth of war-affected Germany and Japan and China’s unprecedented development.
“Why can’t we do it? Are we condemned to live like a beggar? It’s out of the question,” he said.
He said however, being a nuclear power, Pakistan was able to thwart any bad intentions against it, the country was lagging behind India in the field of information technology which reached an export market of 200 billion dollars against 1.5 billion dollars for Pakistan.
However, he said he asked relevant ministries to increase IT exports to $15 billion by empowering young people.
Regarding the problems faced by the city of Karachi, the Prime Minister said that an investment of 1 billion dollars from Saudi Arabia was ready which could be used to solve the problem of water supply in installing a desalination plant.
He urged the provincial government to study the feasibility of the project in coordination with the business community as well as public representatives.
Calling for the construction of IT towers across the country, the Prime Minister stressed the transparent and coordinated policy to establish export processing zones providing free land to exporters through one-stop operations .
He said it was also essential to provide loans to exporters to establish export-based and agro-processing industries.
Referring to his meeting with a Chinese delegation on Thursday, the prime minister told the businessmen that they had expressed interest in the Karachi Ring Railway project.
He also called on the business community to come up with a mechanism for supplying gas to industries without compromising the needs of domestic consumers.
He said that currently Pakistan’s oil import bill stands at $20 billion, which could only be reduced by promoting green energy, citing the huge potential of alternative energy resources in the Sindh, Bahawalpur and Balochistan.
Announcing the immediate abolition of the 17% solar penalty tax, the Prime Minister stressed the need for a mandatory solar geyser policy for every household.
Shehbaz Sharif said that during the previous government he proposed the signing of the Economy Charter which unfortunately was ridiculed.
The Prime Minister also expressed hope for the renewal of GSP Plus status despite the fact that the previous government had criticized the European Union for serving self-interest.