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LAHORE: Provincial Finance Minister Mahkhdoon Hashim Jawan Bakht has said that federal and Punjab budgets for the financial year 2021-22 will be pro-business. Tax relief were given in the Punjab Budget 2020-21 and same approach will also be adopted in the upcoming budget.

The Minister was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry along with Chairman Punjab Revenue Authority (PRA) Zain ul Abidin. In the upcoming Punjab budget, a package of Rs.10 billion would be given with the aim of enhancing global competitiveness of our industry. "The testing lab facility will be part of the package," he said, adding that testing labs are being set up for the food and drugs sector. He said that the business community will be consulted for special package.

About Punjab Infrastructure Development Cess, the Minister said that the feasibility in this regard will be completed within three months and if study will support and help to restore the activities at dry ports, Punjab Infrastructure Development Cess will be abolished. "We are committed to giving more tax relief to the businessmen in the next financial year," the minister added.

LCCI President Mian Tariq Misbah pointed out that water tariff of WASA Lahore for industrial and commercial users (Rs 100,000 for 1 Cusec and Rs 50,000 for 1/2 Cusec) is considerably higher as compared to other cities of Punjab like Faisalabad and Multan etc. The water tariff in Faisalabad for dyeing processing Industry is Rs 13,000/Cusec and Rs 19,000/Cusec per month for General Industry. Since both the cities are under the same provincial government, uniform water tariff should be applied in all cities of Punjab.

Mian Tariq Misbah said that the constant reduction in the Annual Development Program (ADP) expenditure over the time from Rs 576 billion in 2017-18 to Rs 350 billion in budget 2019-20 and Rs 337 billion in 2020-21 has impacted the development activities and resulted in economic slowdown in the province.

The LCCI President said that sales tax on services is being charged at different rates by Punjab Revenue Authority (16 percent) and Sindh Revenue Board (13 percent), which creates an environment of competition among the provinces. There is a dire need of harmonization among the provincial and federal tax collecting agencies. If the service provider is resident in Punjab and the service recipient is in Sindh, then both are required to pay sales tax on services in their respective provinces. To avoid this dual taxation, the revenue authorities of the provinces should agree on jurisdictions and common rules, he added.

Mian Tariq Misbah said that the number of taxes in Punjab is more than 100 which need to be rationalized. Similarly, the frequency of tax payments in Punjab as 12 payments per year for Social Security-PESSI) is also very high which needs to be decreased.

He said that the high rate of conversion fee (20 percent of DC value) for land use charged by LDA for existing units and 10 percent for new industrial projects with minimum investment of Rs 2 billion on 20 acre land is an impediment to industrialization in the province and should be abolished.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021