SCCI demands concession on power, gas rates & taxes

Peshawar   -   Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) president Fuad Ishaq has demanded a 20-year concession on electricity, gas rates and exemption of income and sale taxes and provision of land on subsidized rates for setting up industries aimed to revive trade and economic activities and bring prosperity, stability and progress in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The SCCI chief called for provision for facilities to investors under a one-window operation. He emphasised the need for giving due rights of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa on electricity, gas that would help in business and industry growth and setting up new industries, consequently opening new avenues of employment for many people in the province. Furthermore, he urged bureaucracy to play a role in removal of business community’s miseries and issues by enforcement of viable and concrete policies.

Fuad Ishaq was talking to members of probationary officers’ delegation of the Special Training Programme (STP) at the chamber house here on Wednesday. The delegation was led by Pakistan Institute of Trade and Development (PITAD) Director Dost Muhammad.

Detailed briefing through a multimedia presentation, highlighting the origin of the chamber, its aim and objectives, important initiatives, role of the SCCI in resolution of the business community issues, business and industrial growth, and future plan and programs, was given on the occasion.

Keeping in the prevailing scenario, Fuad stressed signing on charter of economy and proper consultation with chambers, traders and relevant stakeholders to put the economy on the right track. He said businessmen in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are faced with hardship owing to faraway from the seaport. He, however, said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been blessed with natural resources which is a net exporter of electricity and gas, despite the fact that provinces were being charged equal rates with other federating units, which is totally unfair and unjustifiable.

The SCCI chief said Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is producing 6500 megawatt electricity in which 2700 megawatt is utilized in summer and only 1100 megawatt in winter season, rest of the produced electricity exported to the national grid. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa total oil production is 31000 barrels per day, which is 42 percent share of the whole country’s oil production, Mr Fuad said. He suggested the establishment of an oil refinery in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa wherein oil reserves were available in surplus quantity.

Similarly, he said total gas production of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is 615 MMCFDs against its demand of 200MMCFDs and rest of 415 MMCFDs were been given to the national grid if the 200MMCFDs were fully supplied with proper gas pressure to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa so the gas issues would be resolved. He added industries were only utilizing 35MMCFDs gas.

He added that the rate of 200 MMCFDs to KP were also charged equal to other provinces, even though Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has put into basket of RLNG, which is totally unjustifiable and unfair. He added that the industry and business cannot be run on these high charges. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Rs3900/MMBTU gas for commercial consumers and Rs2700/MMBTU gas for industrial consumers while fertilizer sector was provided gas at low cost in major provinces, Fuad added.

The SCCI chief demanded advantages to KP from the ‘One belt One Road Initiative of China.

Responding to a question about border trade, Fuad Ishaq said mutual trade volume between Pakistan and Afghanistan stood at $3 billion back in 2013-14 that now came down at $500 to $800 million, according to some rough estimate. However, he revealed Pak-Afghan trade volume has almost touched $7 billion mark as per unofficial data.

Talking about hydel, nuclear and thermal power, Mr Fuad said all these resources expenditure is only Rs11 per unit but due to inefficiency of power distribution companies, thieves and growing line losses, Rs23 per unit has been increased in it, calling for steps for its eradication at government level.

Emphasizing the need of broadening tax-base through reforms, the SCCI chief said according to rough estimates, nearly 30million people were paid various taxes in which salaried class also included and it is quite visible that only 120,000 members of the business community were paid over Rs1 million taxes every year.

He mentioned that from 30 to 32 billion dollars through human resources were official and the same figure amount was unofficial in the shape of foreign exchange. He called for provision of loans on easy terms to entrepreneurs.

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