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Discussion session with Dr. Ishrat Hussain on "The economic challenges faced by the new Government".

Pakistan France Business Alliance organized a discussion session on "The Economic Challenges faced by the New Government" on 27 May with Dr. Ishrat Hussain, Ex-Governor of State Bank and one of the most prominent Economic experts in the country, as the key-note speaker.

This brain-storming session was very well attended by PFBA members, businessmen, bankers and diplomats. It provided an occasion to the audience to benefit from the assessment of Dr. Ishrat Hussain of the main Economic problems facing the country and the type of solutions that people would expect from the new government that will take over.

Introducing the topic, the President of PFBA, Mr. Jamil Hamdani, briefly enumerated the economic problems which are most acutely felt by those who run the industries, banks, and businesses.  Among the main issues Mr. Hamdani listed the energy shortage, current account deficit, weak Rupee, insecurity, lack of transparency in public contracts and incompetent economic diplomacy. Mr. Hamdani stressed that people of Pakistan in general and the business community in particular was rightly expecting an economic road-map from the future government.

Dr. Ishrat Hussain spelt out the economic policy issues which needed urgent attention on the part of the new government. Foremost of which are the current account deficit and the consequent weakening of the Rupee against the convertible foreign currencies, deficit financing, narrow tax base, the circular debt, inconsistent taxation policies, wrong energy mix, inefficient economic governance etc. Dr. Ishrat said that it would be appropriate that the new government issued an economic policy statement along with the next budget. According to him the economic fundamentals of the country were good but when the sea is choppy a strong hand is needed at the Helm of the ship.  He reminded the audience that the credit for the economic liberalization reforms and the privatization program goes to the first Nawaz Sharif government which was in power from 1990 to 1993. He cautioned against a short term vision of the things and was of the opinion that after the initial honeymoon which may be of about 100 days, the public opinion will start judging the government on the basis of actual delivery.

After the address of Dr. Ishrat Hussain, a lively question-answer session ensued in which questions were asked on many issues ranging from IMF bail-out to the competence level of the future economic team. At the end Mr. Saeed Allahwala, Vice-President PFBA, thanked the distinguished chief guest  for sparing his time for this session and thanked the audience for the keen interest  showed in the discussion.