Growth in exports essential for economic expansion: Wathra

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KARACHI: State Bank of Pakistan Governor Ashraf Mahmood Wathra on Monday said that boost in exports is a solution towards economic prosperity and any International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) related projects are temporary support to the country.

He remarked this during an interaction with media after a detailed briefing on economy of Pakistan at Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX), which was organised jointly by PSX and SBP.

He said besides building a strong foreign exchange base through more exports and remittances, increase in foreign direct investment (FDI) was needed for the high real growth in the country. He also urged the multi-national companies to bring more FDI in the country.

The economic situation in the country was improving. However, more efforts were needed on the financing side, he said.

To a question, he said SBP had introduced ‘Assan Account’ scheme for the low-income people would be made functional within next few minutes. “SBP has launched a financial awareness programme in the country as a step towards financial inclusion. Our target is to give banking access to at least 50 percent of adult population,” he added.

Earlier, during questions and answers session, he replied various queries of businessmen and bankers. To a question from Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Senior Vice President Khalid Tawab, the SBP governor agreed that long-term planning was needed to ensure more cotton crop and its high yield per acre. The government would have to play its role in this regard, he said.

When his attention was drawn to financial difficulties of power projects being executed in private sector, the SBP chief offered his mediation for settling tariff with National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (NEPRA).

On this occasion, a representative of Habib Bank Limited (HBL) assured that being a private commercial bank, HBL could arrange dollars for opening of letters of credit (L/Cs).

A leading stock broker/investor Arif Habib drew the governor’s attention to less loaning to housing industry and that overseas Pakistanis were less interested in investing in industrial sector. Instead, they were holding their earnings with them and use their remittances for the purchase of land and other prosperity.

Another senior broker/investor Moin Fuda pointed out that Pakistan has only 2,500,000 investors’ base. And, instead of giving more incentives to them, the government was charging them with 12 percent taxes. He said another serious hurdle to investment was the imposition of five percent tax on bonus shares. These both taxes should immediately be withdrawn, he added.

The SBP governor assured him of taking up the matter with the higher authorities of the government.

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