Court’s verdict unlikely to have much impact on economy

KARACHI: Pakistan’s economy has already endured too many uncertainties, be they due to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s decision on placing the country on its grey list of terrorism financing or the upcoming general elections.

Now, the accountability court’s verdict against former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, his daughter and son-in-law on Friday would have little impact on the already beleaguered economy, said Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) Secretary Abdul Aleem.

“Foreign investors have already shied away from investing in Pakistan due to several reasons like FATF and ballot. I think this [verdict] will have little impact on the economy now,” Aleem told The Express Tribune.

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He was of the opinion that the economy had already priced in the impact of Avenfield properties’ reference in the accountability court.

Moreover, there was no planned investment coming to Pakistan at the moment except for those in the pipeline. “So, fortunately the economy may not be responding adversely to this news,” he said.

However, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) President Mufassar Atta Malik was of the view that the court’s ruling had added to the anxiety of investors and uncertainty had grown to higher levels.

“It is only the beginning of the case. Now they [Nawaz Sharif and family] will file an appeal,” Malik remarked.

“The stock market has been suffering for the last three months. Investors are pulling out their money. I believe China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) activities are also slowing down. I see trouble ahead due to elections. Even if polls are held on time, there may be widespread allegations of rigging,” he added.

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Commenting on the verdict, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Ghazanfar Bilour said the court’s decision would add to the uncertainty.

“The caretaker government has already made lives difficult for people by increasing inflation. They have let the dollar inflate to a historic high and hiked petroleum prices substantially in the recent past, though they do not have the right to do all this,” Bilour noted.

It had been the poor who had borne the brunt of these adverse decisions, he said and now expected the Supreme Court’s verdict in a suo motu case against the hike in petroleum product prices.

“The stock market is bleeding and lost 1,200 points in a single day a few days ago. The economy is in a very bad shape and the [Avenfield] verdict will only add to the agony,” he added.

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