Protests damaging country’s image, economy: Bossan

*PEW says Pakistan to lose ranking in various indexes due to political agitation

MULTAN/ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for National Food Security and Research Sikandar Hayat Bossan said the politics of protests was damaging the country.
Addressing an open court at Union Council 127 Qasim Bela, Sikandar Bossan said the country could not afford the politics of protests and sit-ins. He observed that the country was already facing the energy crisis and the government was working on a war-footing bais. He said participants in “Dharna” had held citizens of Islamabad and some important buildings of the state hostage which was damaging the economy. He also listened to public problems and assured them that they would be resolved on priority. 
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW) on Sunday said political agitation would result in lowered ranking for country in various subjects including the World Bank’s next Doing Business Report compromising its image.
The World Bank in its 2014 publication lowered Pakistan’s ranking in ease of doing business from 106 in 2012-13 to 110 in 2013-14 which will be brought down in the next report due to political uncertainty, said PEW President Dr Murtaza Mughal.
Country is facing serious challenges but the iron-headed power players are bent on sacrificing national and economic interests augmenting worries of masses to achieve their goals which has damaged stock market, rupee and commodity markets, he added.
Dr Murtaza Mughal said export consignments worth tens of million of dollars are struck while imported cargo is more or less halted in the wake of anti-government protests while the administrative measures in Punjab can be best described as overreaction.
The country will suffer a lot even if there is a political settlement as the ability of government to revive economy remains questionable, he observed.
The last report of the Bank had exposed the repeated claims of the sitting government regarding promoting private sector and growing business activity since it took over, he added.
Dr Murtaza Mughal said that the PML-N led government has so far not introduced meaningful reforms that could have a positive impact on trade facilitation while other regional countries have taken positive measures.
At home, load shedding worsened in 2013-14 as compare to 2012-13 resulting in a loss of 3 points - from 172 ranking in 2012-13 to 175 in 2013-14 hitting masses and almost every sector of economy.
Tax reforms could not be introduced by the government earning Pakistan 166th place out of a total of 189 nations under review.
One can only hope that the political issues are resolved peacefully and normal economic activity resumes lest something unanticipated happens, warned Dr Mughal. 

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