The President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Irfan Iqbal Sheikh has expressed serious concerns regarding the lack of consultation between the government and the business community, particularly the FPCCI, regarding the upcoming federal budget announcement scheduled for June 9th. With less than a month to go before the budget presentation, the FPCCI has invited Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Ishaq Dar to meet with business leaders to discuss their proposals for the budget and to address any issues or concerns they may have.

The FPCCI is eager to discuss its proposals on various topics, including industrial, trade, shipping, transportation, taxation, SME, agriculture, IT & ITeS, monetary and fiscal policies with the government. The President of FPCCI was shocked to learn that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had raised the external funding requirement from $6 to $8 billion, despite the fact that friendly countries have already promised up to $5 billion in funding or roll-overs to Pakistan. He criticized the IMF for resorting to arm-twisting and called on the international community to take notice.

The FPCCI President also questioned the validity of the stalled EFF program, which is only valid until June 2023, but the IMF has suddenly raised the external funding requirement from $6 to $8 billion for the next seven months. He believes this has no justification and undermines the entire budget-making exercise of a country with a population of over 230 million.

The President emphasized that the government’s economic and financial team must be aware that the IMF program is unlikely to materialize before the upcoming budget. The FPCCI has observed that the government was making its budget on the basis of a resumed IMF program, but given the current circumstances, major adjustments to the budget will be necessary within the short period of three weeks.

The President of FPCCI believes that the only solution to steer Pakistan out of the crisis is through indigenous solutions with a few basic principles, including simplifying and broadening the tax base, targeted subsidies to five export-oriented sectors, encouraging remittances, incentivizing industrialization and export substitution, making all economic policies in consultation with real stakeholders of the economy, and signing a national economic agenda and plan for the next 15 years that all political parties agree on.

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