Ahsan Zafar Bakhtawari, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) on Sunday urged the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to make significant cut in interest rate to revive the businesses and economy of the country. He said that the 20 percent benchmark interest rate in is highest , which is a major hurdle in promoting trade and industrial activities in the country. He said that the interest rate in China is 3.65%, Bangladesh 6%, India 6.5% but in Pakistan it is 20%, which is highest. He urged the need for reducing interes rate to provide level playing filed to Pakistani businesses to compete with regional competitors for exports. He said this while addressing a dinner reception hosted in honor of Sardar Tahir Mahmood, President, Islamabad Estate Agents Association. Ahsan Bakhtawari said that the hike in interest rate has made the credit cost unaffordable for the private sector due to which business and investment activities are badly suffering. He urged the government to address the concerns of the business community on high interest rate and high taxes on the construction sector to ease their problems. Speaking at the occasion, Sardar Tahir, President, of Islamabad Estate Agents Association said that the construction industry is the backbone of the economy as its growth boosts the business activities of over 70 allied industries. However, the construction industry is in big trouble these days due to high interest rate, higher taxes and devaluation of the rupee. He urged Finance Minister Ishaq Dar to hold a meeting with the business community of the construction industry to listen to their genuine issues and take urgent remedial measures to revive the economy. Zafar Bakhawari, former President ICCI said that Pakistan is facing a serious issue of foreign exchange reserves due to which imports are banned and said that the best option for Pakistan to improve forex reserves is to boost exports on an urgent basis. He said that for this purpose, it is essential that the government should promote ease of doing business by reducing the cost of doing business. Sardar Yasir Ilyas Khan, former President ICCI said that the government’s policy of increasing interest rate to control inflation has failed, adding that instead of controlling inflation, high interest rate would lead to rapid de-industrialization causing more slowdown in GDP growth. He urged the SBP to reconsider its monetary policy and reduce the interest rate to make it affordable for businesses. Muhammad Ejaz Abbasi former President ICCI, Zahid Rafiq Secretary General Islamabad Estate Agents Association and others also spoke at the occasion.