Pakistan’s Business Community Learns to Speak With One Voice



By Majid Shabbir

The advocacy process in Pakistan is strengthening as the leaders of the country’s Chambers of Commerce and Industry assembled for a series of Pre- and Post-Budget Conferences in Islamabad, Karachi, Faisalabad, and Rawalpindi to discuss the key business-related policy issues.

In these conferences business leaders of the Chambers thoroughly deliberate important issues and send consolidated policy recommendations to the government. Business associations individually make recommendations on various policies, but with a collective voice they are able to communicate more effectively. Their voice is better heard, and as a result more of their suggestions are incorporated while developing economic policies.

In the pre-budget conferences held by the Karachi and Faisalabad Chambers, the business leaders discussed in-depth trade and economic issues and presented detailed recommendations to the government for consideration. Before the announcement of the Federal Budget the government also involved Chambers and Associations in the consultative process by holding series of meetings with the leaders of these associations.

After the budget was released, the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry organized an All Chambers Presidents Post-Budget Conference with the theme of “Together for a Progressive Pakistan” on June 14 that was attended by all major Chambers including Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Sialkot, KPK, and Rawalpindi, as well as experts and high-level government officials.

The Presidents of Chambers were of the view that government should facilitate the growth of businesses to generate tax revenue, create more jobs, and increase exports.

They recommended that government should not take such measures that increase the cost of doing business, promote informal sector, and negatively impact the SME sector.

It was stressed that government should focus on broadening the tax net to increase the tax-to-GDP ratio instead of burdening the existing taxpayers and squeezing the formal sector. They recommended simplifying the tax regime and reducing the tax rates to expand the tax net and generate desired revenue.

By holding series of pre- and post-budget conferences, the chambers have developed strong networking and shared views on important issues in order to collectively advocate for appropriate measures by the policymakers.

Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) has been instrumental in the advocacy drive by guiding leaders of business associations’ in launching successful advocacy campaigns and creating networks among them that helped in exchanging views on common issues.

With these unified efforts, Chambers in Pakistan are now playing a more vibrant role, and the government has begun involving them more in the consultative process to get input on critical business-related issues. This active two-way approach helps in bringing good results for a progressive Pakistan.

Majid Shabbir is Secretary General of the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry.