LCCI chief identifies key issues hampering economic growth

LAHORE  -   Pakistan has all the abilities to emerge as an economic leader once the key economic issues including devaluation, closure of industries, high utility prices, inflation and high mark up rates are controlled with a collective approach besides addressing the reservations of business community on rapid implementation of SROs for those who are already in the tax net including Tajir Dost Scheme. These all are discouraging the confidence of local investors.

These views were expressed by the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Kashif Anwar while addressing the participants of 35th Senior Management Course of the National Institute of Management. LCCI Senior Vice President Zafar Mahmood Chaudhry also spoke on the occasion while the delegation was headed by NIM Faculty Advisor Amir Fayyaz. The LCCI president said that because of ongoing economic scenario, people want to leave the country.

Kashif Anwar called for a business friendly taxation system, saying that it would pave way for economic development of the country. On a question regarding Tajir Dost Scheme, he said that LCCI has reservations on this issue. Stakeholders were not taken into confidence before launching the scheme and there are issues in this scheme which need to be addressed in consultation with stakeholders

He said that the businessmen who are outside the tax net and who have never filed a tax return are asked to deposit advance tax every month under this scheme which is not practically possible as the shopkeepers would have to remain associated with the tax lawyers. Secondly, the tax will be determined on the value of the property, which has nothing to do with the turnover. He suggested that this tax must be simplified and the shopkeepers have to file a payment challan once a year. Kashif Anwar said that instead of making tax policies for those who are in the tax net, policies should be made for those who are not in the tax net.

Answering a question regarding the static tax base, Kashif Anwar said that when the existing tax payers will be given due respect from the government and when they will be differentiated from the non-taxpayer, the tax base will automatically expand.

The LCCI president said that high utility prices have become a headache for the industrialists and they have started disbanding electricity connections because of MDI fixed charges on closed units. He said that the policy makers would have to think that industrial closures would cause unemployment, cut in government’s revenues and would send a bad message to the foreign investors. He also called to bring down the mark up rate for a sustainable growth of the industry. He said that high markup rate is no more sustainable as it has been causing an immense harm to economy and will continue to do so unless and until a realist approach is adopted. “We want to increase exports but the priority should be to reduce imports and that will be through industrialisation and import substitution,” the LCCI president added.

The LCCI president informed the NIM delegation that Lahore Chamber is playing its role to promote trade and economic activities. Kashif Anwar said that the history of Lahore Chamber covers a century. This chamber was established in the name of Northern India Chamber in 1923. The number of its members has exceeded 35 thousand. He said that Lahore Chamber provides business opportunities through meetings with heads of diplomatic missions, various federal and provincial departments and ministries. It remains busy in finding the trade and investment opportunities and is also playing the role of a bridge between the stakeholders and the state.

The LCCI president said that the main function of Lahore Chamber is policy advocacy and through its research and development department, it identifies possible solutions to the problems faced by the business community with the input of standing committees related to various sectors. He said that Lahore Chamber is also active in the social sector. Lahore Chamber is the only chamber in the country which has launched smart services for its members and the help desks of several organisations are working under one roof.

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