Sep 02, 2019: The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) has urged the government to bring down the key interest rate to single digit level for reviving business activities.
They said that due to high interest rate, production cost and cost of doing business has increased manifold causing slowdown in business activities and halt in new investment.
In a statement, President ICCI Ahmed Hassan Moughal, Senior Vice President Rafat Farid and Vice President Iftikhar Anwar Sethi said that businessmen needed borrowings from banks to expand existing businesses and invest in new start-ups, but policy rate of 13.25 percent has made bank borrowing very costly for them due to which they were facing problems in promoting business activities.
Ahmed Hassan Moughal said that whenever interest rate went up, banks preferred to invest in government securities instead of providing credit to private sector and the same was happening right now in Pakistan.
He further said that the incumbent government also financed the bulk of fiscal deficit through borrowings from the central bank due to which inflation shot up and government adopted a tight monetary policy throughout the year to check inflationary pressures. But this approach crowded out the private sector from the credit facility.
Due to this factor, the performance of all major industries during 2018-19 including food, beverages, petroleum, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and automobiles remained in negative while the growth of SMEs also suffered.
The ICCI President said that the value of rupee experienced depreciation during the tenure of present government which should have facilitated the growth of exports.
However, due to high interest rates, the export-oriented sector has suffered greatly.
Therefore, he urged the government for providing interest-rate subsidy to the export-oriented industries and bring down interest rate to below 10 percent so that businesses could get credit at affordable cost from banks and focus on promoting business activities.
It would create multiple benefits for the economy as growth of businesses would create new jobs, attract more investment, improve tax revenue and promote exports, he added.