LAHORE - Provincial Minister for Industries and Commerce Mian Aslam Iqbal has said that the Master Plan for Lahore is on final stage that will also identify the commercial and industrial areas.

He was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Indutry. LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir, Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan and Vice President Haris Ateeq also spoke on the occasion. The Minister said that the land in Muzaffargarh has been identified for the establishment of industrial zone. He said that a business-friendly environment is top priority of the government and all possible measures are being taken in this regard. The government and private sector must be on one page to keep the wheel of trade and industry moving.

On demand of the LCCI President, the minister said that the Lahore Chamber will be given representation in the trade and industry related departments. He said that 1450 new factories have been set up in small industrial estates in the last three and a half years. He said that a meeting between LCCI office-bearers and RUDA CEO will be arranged.

While appreciating the LCCI endeavors for the flood affectees, Mian Aslam Iqbal said that the flood has caused destruction everywhere and we have to work together to help and restore the flood victims.LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir informed the provincial minister that the Lahore Chamber has created Flood Relief Fund worth one crore rupees and is asking business people to contribute more into it. Furthermore, a relief camp has also been set up outside LCCI building so that general public may also donate money, food items and essential things of daily use for the help of flood-affected people. He said that there is a dire need for establishment of Export Processing Zones (EPZs) and Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Lahore as the two major Industrial Estates in Lahore have almost reached their full capacity.

Mian Nauman Kabir said that LCCI should be given representation in the boards of various organizations/authorities that are related to or associated with Department of Industries e.g. PIEDMC (Punjab Industrial Estates Development & Management Company), FIEDMC (Faisalabad Industrial Estates Development & Management Company), PSIC (Punjab Small Industries Corporation), TEVTA (Technical Educational & Vocational Training Authority), PVTC (Punjab Vocational Training Council), PSDA (Punjab Skills Development Authority) and CPC (Consumer Protection Council) etc.

Land in Muzaffargarh has been identified for establishment of industrial zone

LCCI Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan underlined the issue of Chapter 84, 85 and urged the minister to play his role to get this issue resolved at the earliest. Vice President Haris Ateeq said that this issue is hampering smooth running of the businesses therefore it should be resolved at the earliest. He said that SMEs only get 6% of private sector financing and around 65% of the SMEs are based in Punjab. Besides that, we also expect the Government of Punjab to take special measures for facilitating the access to credit for SMEs at affordable rates without collateral.

The LCCI president said that the cost of land for the business community in the Industrial Estates has reached to exorbitantly high levels. There is need for a simple lease policy through which the land in the existing/new Industrial Estates can be provided at reasonable rates on long term lease, particularly for the SMEs. We would like you to play a strong role in this regard. He said that high rate of conversion fee (20% of DC value) for land use charged by LDA for existing units is an impediment to Industrialization in the province and should be abolished.

Mian Nauman Kabir added that LCCI has been constantly raising the issue of the imposition of Punjab Infrastructure Development Cess (PIDC). We were told by the previous provincial Finance Minister that the Government of Punjab is assessing the impact of this cess on the businesses and would take a decision in this regard. LCCI maintains that the imposition of this cess at the rate of 0.9% on Dry Ports in Punjab has prompted many businesses based in Lahore and other parts of Punjab to get their consignments cleared from Karachi. The collection of this Cess was merely Rs. 5 Billion in 2021-22.

He said that this Cess has resulted in tremendous loss of business volume at Dry Ports in Punjab, shifting of Tax revenues from Dry Ports in Punjab to Karachi and furthermore hampered the businesses of Clearing Agents and Transportation Companies that provide sizeable employment. He demanded removal of this Cess to ease out the business community and revive economic activities at the Dry Port.