Traders and industrialists demand appointment of SBP governor and regulatory action against commercial banks

KARACHI: Industry and commerce leaders have called on the government to immediately appoint a central bank governor, draft an economy charter with the opposition and conduct a forensic audit of commercial banks to stop the fall of the rupee.

They alleged that if the dollar rate is 227 rupees, commercial banks clear the documents at the rate of 242 rupees, which should be regulated by the central bank. The SBP is expected to step in to curb the fall in the currency, as with the fall of the rupee, the government’s debt burden had increased by Rs9.7 trillion.

Otherwise, they warned that the deteriorating economy will lead to a national security crisis in the next 15 days.

The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) and the leadership of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry held two separate press conferences on Thursday which were also joined by associations and industrialists from other cities.

FPCCI Chairman Irfan Iqbal Sheikh along with other bureau members at a press conference at Federation House demanded a forensic audit of commercial banks allegedly involved in currency speculation. This has led to the unrealistic depreciation of the rupee against the dollar, they claimed.

Federation leaders from Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and other offices joined the press conference via video link. They also held a meeting after the press conference.

Sheikh said importers were not receiving dollars and their letters of credit were not open. This would lead to an undesirable situation in the country, and the following 15 days were crucial for national economy and security.

He said that the economic and inflation problems had become a national security issue and that if the depreciation of the rupee was not stopped and urgently managed, a situation similar to that of Sri Lanka could develop in the world. country. “Due to uncertainty and inflation, gasoline would not be available, leading to public chaos.”

A thousand containers were stuck at the port and should be immediately allowed to proceed to their destination as a fee of $120 per day was being paid, Sheikh added.

FPCCI bureau members recommended the government to launch a foreign currency amnesty program that could bring about $8 billion into circulation, as Pakistanis held a large volume of foreign currency with them.

They said the rupiah’s depreciation was also the result of a lack of regulation by the State Bank of Pakistan, which was headed by an acting governor.

They asked the government to take into account the federation and the chambers when forming economic policies and committees.

The chairman of the FPCCI was asked to appoint the governor of the SBP within 48 hours, so that the regulator would deal with the currency speculation of commercial banks and set a dollar rate for a minimum of 15 to 30 days.

He also suggested forming an economic disaster management committee on the same model as the non-commissioned officer who managed the Covid-19 pandemic. “All political parties should sit on an economic charter within the next 72 hours,” he said.

Political stability was of utmost importance to achieve economic stability.

In a separate press conference, Businessmen Group (BMG) Chairman Zubair Motiwala and KCCI Chairman Muhammad Idrees also discussed the current political and economic scenario in the country.

They also expressed deep concern over the government’s unserious attitude to the rupee crisis, economic challenges, political uncertainty and unregulated bank profits.

Motiwala said industrialists were unsure whether to shut down industries or continue operations, while traders were unsure whether to keep goods or sell in the market. “Industries will not be able to operate with such a high and fluctuating cost of doing business because they are unable to determine the selling price and the cost of manufacturing their products under such a level of uncertainty” , he added.

Motiwala said that to reduce the import bill, the import of raw materials is stopped and they are scared how the industry will operate in the coming days.

He conceded that although the current political instability in the country has also weakened the currency, the economic indicators were not that bad.

He said they were also ready to mediate a dialogue on the economy between the government and the opposition.

He warned that if industry demands were not heeded, industries would close leading to loss of jobs; and that “would be dangerous.”

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