Traders, industrialists seek lifting of import curbs

ISLAMABAD: Leading industrialists and representatives of chambers of commerce and industries from across Pakistan have urged the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to ease import restrictions.
They said the government’s import restrictions have left the industrialists and importers with no other option but to cut their business activities.
Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ICCI) President Ahsan Zafar Bakhtawri told WealthPK that the government should find alternatives and substitutes to imports, and to take appropriate measures to promote exports in the country. He said that shortage of dollars is one of the main causes of financial crisis, adding that the government needs to enhance cooperation with the business community and industrialists to explore new export markets.
He said that foreign currency reserves of the country could only be increased with burgeoning exports. Almost all the export-oriented industries in Pakistan need to import raw material to produce finished products for exports, and all respective industries are waiting for the SBP to open letters of credit (LCs) to import basic raw materials and tools of industries.
Meanwhile, Bakhtawri said while addressing a function at the ICCI that the government should announce bonuses for the exporters and remitters to deposit dollars in banks.
Many industrial units in the country have either closed their operations or come to the point of halting their productivity due to non-issuance of LCs from banks to import raw materials and intermediate tools of the industrial units.
The automotive industry in Pakistan has also suffered as leading car manufacturers including Suzuki, Indus Motors and Honda have halted operations owing to import restrictions.
Waheed Khan, Member of Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association, told WealthPK that although the State Bank has exempted assemblers of the auto industry from prior approvals to open LCs, commercial banks have been asked not to open LCs and are allowing only essential import commodities in the country.
Importers of foodstuff are also protesting in Sindh’s port city of Karachi. They have warned that crisis of pulses, edible oil and ghee could heighten in the country in the coming days owing to import restrictions. They said the prices of these commodities are increasing with each passing day and may go beyond the reach of consumers if imports are not allowed.
Meanwhile, owing to energy crisis, All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) has shut down more than 150 spinning and textile mills, rendering thousands of workers jobless.
Senior Vice Chairman of Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Association Nadeem Zafar told WealthPK that 90% medicines made in Pakistan are based on raw material imported from China and India. The prices of vital medicines may witness enormous increase if the issue of raw material import is not addressed.