ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Miftah Ismail on Wednesday highlighted the structural problems of the country’s economy, saying that Pakistani companies preferred to import parts of their products instead of manufacturing them indigenously at home.
The government recently imposed a temporary ban on the import of luxury items since it was facing a massive current account deficit along with dwindling forex reserves and a rapidly depreciating currency.
The finance minister issued the statement against the same backdrop while addressing a conference of business leaders in the federal capital where he specifically mentioned the country’s cellphone and automobile manufacturers.
“We have given subsidies and 10 percent duty advantage to mobile industry to manufacture phones in Pakistan but their value addition is not more than five percent,” he said. “They get all of their parts from outside and only assemble them here. We have given double duty protection than its value addition and the same thing holds true for car manufacturing companies as well.”
Ismail noted that automobile manufacturers had been working in Pakistan for more than 30 years, but they had not exported vehicles worth a single dollar.
“Pakistani companies are selling inside the country only, though they should try to sell [their products] in rich markets of the United States, Europe and far eastern countries,” he added. “They sell locally to earn more profit because it is a protected market.”
The minister pointed out that out of Pakistan’s $30 billion exports, around $20 billion were generated by the textile sector.
“We import $80 billion worth of goods from abroad which is unsustainable,” he continued. “Our industries have to increase exports instead of only making local sales.”
Ismail also maintained that agriculture was the backbone of Pakistan’s economy, though he added it needed more innovation by adopting advanced Agri-Tech.
“My focus is to strengthen our agriculture as we have imported $450 million tons of wheat this year and more is still required,” he said.
The money spent on the import of wheat, the minister continued, could be used to support farmers and introduce latest technology in the sector.