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Businesspeople meet COAS ahead of FY22 budget presentation

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, on Wednesday, has conveyed to the business community that...
Updated 10 Jun 2021

ISLAMABAD: Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, on Wednesday, conveyed to the business community that the national security of Pakistan depends on economic security and businesspeople have been contributing to the country's development and will be supported in every way.

Talking to Business Recorder, Vice President FPCCI and Convener All Pakistan Restaurant Association Athar Sultan Chawla said the army plays a vital role in the stability of the country and when a forum meets at this level, they discuss a number of important things, which are directly or indirectly related to overall progress.

He said businesspeople have discussed their suggestions aimed at broadening the tax net with the army chief.

“The most important suggestion is to enhance the tax net instead of increasing taxes,” he said. The suggestion was also being shared with the finance minister, he added.

According to sources in the FPCCI, the COAS was apprised of the suggestion given to the PM, finance minister and FBR on the required simplification of tax structure.

Reforms in the FBR with elimination of misuse of discretionary powers for present taxpayers are required in order to broaden the tax net. The COAS was told that direct tax collection of Rs1,300 billion was through withholding taxes and not by any direct efforts of the FBR. This practice has turned the businessmen into tax collecting agents with no payment to this “collecting and depositing franchise agents”.

Sources further said the need for administrative reforms was stressed and the army chief was told that movements within the civil bureaucracy should be made on the basis of expertise as in the case of the armed forces instead of “wild” horizontal movements in civil bureaucracy at present.

“Movement within bureaucracy from religious affairs to finance was cited as one example,” the sources said businesspeople as saying.

According to sources, the COAS said the problems highlighted by businessmen representing FPCCI have been noted and would be shared with appropriate forums.

Armed forces should not just be focused on the economic growth but also on the hurdles coming in the way of progress, the sources quoted the army chief as saying. The army chief also underscored the need for conducting workshops by engaging academics and decision-makers to devise relevant policies in consultation with the FPCCI.

He reportedly further said he regards the FPCCI as the most important trade body representing private sector in trade and industry of Pakistan.

He reportedly said that the earliest privatisation of unmanageable State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) as suggested by the FPCCI is worth consideration by those who are involved in making efforts towards reducing wasteful expenditure on account of sick public sector organisations.

The FPCCI leadership highlighted the fact that agricultural provides not only food security but also value-added manufactured products for exports. The productivity and higher value additions remain a policy dream. Fourth and fifth largest cotton producer of world has less than two percent share in world trade of textile and clothing. No prudent research has been done to customise change to suit climate and environmental changes.

The FPCCI therefore suggested a paradigm shift in research for use of seed varieties to increase productivity.

The FPCCI expressed its reservations over proposed loans to SMEs on “high” interest rate (9 percent), saying that high volume loans of more than half a trillion rupees have been provided to “a few large-scale industries” only at one percent. Such policies in developing countries distort the required equitable distribution for progress of “non-influential SMEs”, according to FPCCI.

General Bajwa reportedly agreed with the fact that the restaurant sector is one of the most-affected sectors because of Covid-19.

APP adds: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa Wednesday appreciated role of business community in economic uplift of Pakistan and affirmed Pakistan Army’s complete support.

The members of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) called on Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa here, said an Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) media release. During the meeting, FPCCI’s role in the development of commercial and industrial hubs in Pakistan as well as evolving regional economic environment were discussed.

The delegation acknowledged Pakistan Army’s role and sacrifices in provision of secure enabling environment for economic prosperity in Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021