The Chambers President’s Conference provides an excellent opportunity for business community leaders to focus on a single key agenda point – how to advocate for business-friendly policy reforms – This is the only such event in Pakistan that brings business community leaders together under one roof for intense and constructive discussions.” – Manzar Khurshid Shaikh, President, Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce & Industry
For the fifth year in a row, on February 25-26, 2013, leaders of Pakistan’s business community assembled at Bhurban near Islamabad to participate at the Fifth All Pakistan Chamber Presidents Conference. Thirty-three chamber presidents representing large and small chambers from across Pakistan deliberated on how the next government should act on improving conditions for doing business in Pakistan. The Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry spearheads this event in collaboration with CIPE Pakistan.
This year’s conference was unique as, for the first time in this history of Pakistan, representatives from five key political parties faced direct questions from business leaders. Pakistan Peoples’ Party, Pakistan Muslim League (N), Pakistan Muslim League (Q), Muttehda Qaumi Movement (MQM) and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) attended the meeting. There was an agreement from politicians that the next government must improve the conditions for doing business in the country, which will not only stop capital flight, but also provide employment opportunities.
Interestingly, they arrived on a consensus on the business community’s demand for an effective business-focused manifesto. It was agreed that after the elections, key political players will again sit down with business community leaders to get feedback on specific reform agenda.
Participants demanded the privatization of all of the country’s money-losing public sector enterprises which are currently being subsidized at the cost of wider economic interests. They also asked political parties to reduce the size of government to a maximum of 20 ministries and improve the efficiency of its official machinery. Corruption was also one of the key concerns. The business representatives requested that politicians forge a long-term economic policy for rooting out corruption from the country.
At the end of the two-day conference, the business community announced a Bhurban declaration on national economic reforms. According to the declaration, all political parties should highlight their economic plans in their election manifestos.
Moin Fudda is Country Director for CIPE Pakistan.