By Myra Imran
A group of concerned citizens has urged the business community and overseas Pakistanis to open a new dollar account in Pakistan starting with an amount of at least $1,000 to help the government cope with the prevailing financial crisis.
In a rare yet commendable move, the members of the group gathered here to work out ways to help the country’s ailing economy. They said that investing a small amount would not put any one at risk of heavy loss in case the government took any drastic measures to stabilise the foreign exchange reserves.
“If a small amount is contributed by all those who can afford to do so, it can definitely turn into a big contribution for the country,” they thought.
Suggesting ways to turn this idea into a movement, they said that a committee of elected representatives and civil society be formed to launch a national effort through media to motivate industrialists, traders, civil society and all patriotic Pakistanis in this regard.
Organized by civil society movement by the name of ‘Pur Aman Pakistan,’ the meeting was mainly attended by people belonging to the business community.
In addition, retired army officers, social workers and government officials were also in attendance. Raja Habib and Shafaq Habib were the hosts. Held in an informal environment, the meeting discussed serious political and economic issues faced by the country and expressed disappointment over the indifference of citizens especially the well-to-do, in lending a helping hand.
They said that if every citizen started contributing financially and practically in the process of development instead of waiting for the government to become perfect, the country could easily be pulled out of troubled waters. They demanded that the State Bank establish a Foreign Reserve account where the contributions in the form of dollars or any strong foreign currency be collected. They said that elected leadership led by the president, prime minister and Mian Nawaz Sharif should place $1 million into this account.
They also urged chief ministers, federal ministers, members of National Assembly and Senate to follow the suit and deposit $5,000 to $10,000. “Expatriate Pakistanis should be offered attractive rates of returns and incentives if they remit to this fund,” the group said.
Suggesting other measures to preserve foreign exchange, they said that it should only be available for import of essential items like oil, petroleum products and essential raw material that is not available locally.
“Non-essential import of mobiles, foodstuff like juices, cheese, milk, jams, chocolates, make up items, perfumes and electronics should be stopped until the situation improves.”
Taking to ‘The News,’ Raja Habib said if only 0.5 per cent of the total 170 million population and those living abroad contribute $1,000 in the reserve fund, $ 8.5 billion could be collected.
“As there will not be donations, the fund will only bolster and supplement our reserves to build trust and confidence in the country and its economy,” he said.
He said that there was a need to motivate people not to waste energy and prefer locally manufactured products over imported stuff. “There are thousands of ways through which a common Pakistani can contribute and there is a need to create awareness in this regard,” he added.