LCCI for tax-free budget 2017-18
Federal Budget 2017-18 should be tax-free to grow trade and economic activities in the country. Tax-free budget would help expand tax net and encourage people to come into the tax net voluntarily. These views were expressed by the LCCI Acting President Amjad Ali Jawa while addressing a discussion on Federal Budget 2017-18 at the Lahore Chamber of commerce & Industry. Renowned Journalist Mujib-ur-Rehman Shami, Advisor to Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Arshad, former LCCI Vice President Aftab Ahmad Vohra, Khawaja Khawar Rasheed, Rehmatullah Javed and other experts from different sectors of life spoke on the occasion.
Amjad Ali Jawa said that the policy makers would have to listen to the voice of the business community that is the main stakeholder to the economy. He said that in Bangladesh provision of energy to the trade and industry is top priority that’s why their exports are far ahead of many countries of the world. He urged the government to re-fix the priority list as far as availability of energy to the trade and industry is concerned. He said that in order to tackle the energy shortage, government has to allocate maximum funds for construction of dams. The LCCI Acting President said that the country’s reliance on costly thermal power is jacking up the cost of production and the import bill as well. The country needs an urgent transfer in its energy-mix in favor of hydel power and alternate energy resources.
He said that increasing tax revenues and decreasing number of tax filers is an ample proof of the fact that FBR is putting additional burden to the existing taxpayers. He said that share of industry in tax collection is around 76% that is hitting the competitive edge of the industry and affecting the exports.
Mujib-ur-Rehman Shami stressed the need for an increased interaction between government and private sector to expedite economic growth. He said that business community is the main stakeholder therefore it should be at forefront as far as economic challenges are concerned. Their input should be given due weightage to make the budget meaningful and result oriented. He also urged the FBR to give a deeper look to the tax-related issues.
The experts were of the view that rising risk perception about investing into Pakistan is hitting hard the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and it would affect the economic growth of the country. They said that this issue should be tackled through a comprehensive policy approach by involving Chambers of Commerce in the country. They said that a number of sectors in Pakistan including infrastructure development, coal, energy, agriculture, livestock, textiles and pharmaceutical offer lucrative investment opportunities to foreign investors but unfortunately due to absence of a proper and well tailored marketing strategy, these opportunities are unattended even today.
They urged the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to cut the rate of duties on all smuggling-prone items in order to check smuggling which is destroying the local industry. They also stressed the need to bring the untaxed sectors into the tax net. They said that new taxes, duties or increase in their frequency would hit the existing taxpayers and discourage those who want to come into the tax net.
The experts said that double taxation is hindering the growth of trade and industry therefore this particular issue should also be focused in Federal Budget 2017-18. They also called for addition in budget for health and education and promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises.