LAHORE: The Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry has welcomed the remarkable rise in the confidence of businessmen and foreign investors in Pakistan's economy and called to keep the momentum going.

"Overall Business Confidence Score in Pakistan now stands at positive nine percent which is a very good news for the economy", LCCI President Mian Tariq Misbah, Senior Vice-President Muhammad Nasir Hameed Khan and Vice-President Tahir Manzoor Chaudhry said.

They added according to a survey, a phenomenal increase has been recorded in the confidence of entrepreneurs, companies and foreign investors in the economy of Pakistan.

They said that a record improvement of 59 percent from the previous negative 50 percent is an ample proof of the fact that the government had adopted prudent monetary and fiscal policies despite the Covid-19 challenge.

The LCCI office-bearers said that the achievement is good and encouraging but still a lot of room is available for further improvement at the economic front. They said the LCCI has always played an instrumental role for the promotion of trade, industry and the national economy.

They said that some more steps will help to increase the confidence of the business community and can attract the foreign investment. They said in this regard LCCI has presented a set of proposals to the Prime Minister Imran Khan and the concerned departments in which, it has been demanded that the government should take notice of the new clause 203 through which exorbitant powers have given to the tax authorities to arrest and prosecute business community.

The LCCI office-bearers said that the government has withdrawn the facility of reduced rate of Sales Tax (10%) on import of pharmaceutical plant, machinery, HVAC equipment and capital goods. This would hamper the competitiveness of Pharma sector. They said that this facility should be restored.

They further said that exorbitant fines have been imposed for the importers under section (28)156 in the Federal Budget 2021-22 if they for any reason are not able to complete the paperwork for redemption of their shipments.

They stressed upon the government to declare pharmaceutical and engineering sectors completely zero-rated. This step will play a significant part in further enhancing our exports. The LCCI members said that the system of centralized automated refund system should be fully functional.

They said that in addition to ST refunds, income tax refunds should also be paid through this system to facilitate the business community.

They added that there is a great need to improve our infrastructure as far as Testing Laboratories and Standard Certification is concerned. They said that substantial allocation from Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) and EDF Funding can be utilized to establish a state-of-the-art Testing Laboratories on the outskirts of major cities.

They said that the government has reduced import duties on many raw materials lines in the last couple of years and also in this Budget. This process should be continued for all remaining raw materials which are not manufactured locally will be declared zero-rated.

They further said that the cost of land for the business community in the Industrial Estates has reached to exorbitantly high levels. There is a need for a simple lease policy, they added.

They said that the rate of 17% Sales tax on the inputs of various export-oriented industries is extremely high and needs to be brought down. The interest rate should be reduced further from 7% to 5% in line with the regional economies. The regional interest rates are (India 4%, Bangladesh 4.75%, China 3.85%, and Sri Lanka 4.5%).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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