Govt urged to review proposed normal tax regime for exports

Lahore Chamber holds post-budget session

Government should use data to bring defaulters into tax net and then introduce new taxes for current taxpayers.

LAHORE   -   President of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry has stated that laws should be made for those who are not part of the tax net rather than for those who are already paying taxes. He emphasized the necessity of expanding the tax base and noted that the Lahore Chamber has supported efforts to broaden the tax net from the beginning. However, he also stressed that the government must reduce its expenditures. He urged the government to review the agreements made with IPPs and to bring all sectors, including agriculture, that are currently outside the tax net, into it. He also suggested that the facilities provided to public representatives in assemblies should be discontinued.

He made these remarks while addressing a post-budget seminar held at LCCI. During the seminar, Chartered Accountant Umar Zaheer Mir gave a comprehensive presentation on the budget and answered questions from representatives of all sectors, including exporters. Former President LCCI Shahid Hassan Sheikh, Executive Committee members Raja Hassan Akhtar, Atiq Rehman, other members, and a significant number of the business community attended the seminar.

LCCI President Kashif Anwar stated that they are not against imposing taxes on exporters but opposed changing the decades-old tax regime on exports overnight. He mentioned that previously exporters were subject to a 1% final tax on turnover, which has now been included in the normal tax regime, affecting exports. He stressed that such laws should be implemented only after a thorough consultation process.

LCCI president noted that traders were already facing issues due to previous SROs, and now the budget has created a storm of problems. He highlighted the importance of taxing agriculture if the government aims to bring everyone into the tax net. He pointed out that the IT sector does not bring a significant portion of its earnings into the country due to government policies and questions from the State Bank of Pakistan regarding dollar inflows and outflows. He argued that the country’s current situation does not warrant imposing more taxes on existing taxpayers. He suggested that the government should use data to bring defaulters into the tax net and then introduce new taxes for current taxpayers.

Chartered Accountant Umar Zaheer Mir provided a detailed presentation on the budget, discussing its various aspects. He mentioned that over 1.5 million individuals have NTN (National Tax Number) but do not file returns. According to FBR data, 5 to 7 million individuals have extensive properties and travel abroad frequently but are not registered for income tax. He noted that under national laws, those who do not require NTN are also included in the non-filer category and subjected to certain conditions.

He further stated that a major issue for the country is the payment of interest on loans. He added that the country’s growth target is set at 3.6%, while the inflation target is 12%. He mentioned that capital gains tax, additional income tax, and capital gains tax for non-filers would be imposed on property, which will lead to increased inflation and reduced income.

He highlighted that the biggest issue currently is the IPPs, with agreements that require payment in dollars for full capacity, regardless of the electricity produced. Some of these agreements are expiring this year, while others will end in a few years, necessitating renegotiations.

He noted that the tax on cement will impact the construction sector, which will have ripple effects on other sectors, further increasing inflation. The petrol levy target is set at 80 rupees, to be gradually increased throughout the year. Additionally, exemptions for electric vehicles over $50,000 have been removed. He concluded that essential items will become more expensive.

He stressed the importance of addressing issues like GDP growth, political stability, inflation, interest rates, population growth, human development, and law enforcement in Pakistan. Discussing exporters’ issues, he stated that the new tax imposition would affect national exports.

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