Former Vice President of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Atif Ikram Sheikh has demanded steps to restore the confidence of the expatriates. In a statement issued on Friday, he also demanded action against those involved in illegal hundi business, who were offering higher exchange rates for profit, which was damaging the economy. Atif Ikram Sheikh said that resolving problems and restoring the confidence of expats is necessary as the country lost over $4 billion in FY23 as it received a total of $27.024 billion against a record $31.278 billion in FY22. He said that we lost four billion dollars in remittances, which is much higher than the amount the government struggled to secure from the IMF. The country received a total of $27.024 billion in remittances during FY23, compared to a record $31.278 billion in FY22, a decline of 13.6 percent or 4.254 billion, said Atif Ikram Sheikh who has also served as President ICCI and Chairman PVMA.
The central bank did not offer any reason for the decline of the remittances, but analysts said the government’s effort to keep the dollar at lower than actual rates hit the inflows through banking channels. The government tried to maintain the dollar-rupee parity at Rs220 in the first half of FY23, which proved counterproductive. The USD grossly appreciated in the open market, and resultantly a grey or black market emerged that started offering Rs20 to Rs25 per dollar higher rates, badly hitting remittances, he informed. The business leader said that under pressure from the IMF, the government uncapped the exchange rate on February 26, and the dollar immediately jumped to Rs269.
With fluctuations in subsequent months, the USD reached Rs299 in the interbank on May 11 but remained in the range of Rs280-290. Atif Ikram Sheikh said that during the entire fiscal year FY23, the country remained under the grip of severe political and economic uncertainties, which practically weakened both the economy and the currency. He informed that the highest remittance inflow was from Saudi Arabia, but it fell by 16.9 percent to $6.445 billion in FY23. In percentage terms, remittances from the UAE witnessed a contraction of 20.5 percent to $4.468 billion.
Remittances from all important destinations noted a decline except the US, which recorded a slight growth of 0.1 percent to $3.090 billion in FY23. The inflows from the UK dipped 9.7 percent to $4.056 billion, he said. The inflows from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and European Union (EU) countries fell by 12 percent and 7 percent to $3.191 billion and USD 3.12 billion, respectively, during the outgoing fiscal year. Pakistan’s economy has been in free-fall mode for the last many years, bringing untold pressure on the poor masses in the form of unchecked inflation, making it almost impossible for a vast number of people to make ends meet.
Credit : Independent News Pakistan-INP