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LAHORE: The Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) has urged the government to sustain the decision of “Corporate Guarantee” in provisional assessment dispute case instead of Bank Guarantee or pay order.

In the letters written to Prime Minister Imran Khan, Advisor to PM on Finance Shaukat Tareen and Secretary Finance, the LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir, Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan and Vice President Haris Ateeq said that the Federal government has taken a great decision in Tax Laws (Third Amendment) 2021, by introducing “Corporate Guarantee” in provisional assessment dispute cases instead of Bank Guarantee or pay order.

They said that the option of Corporate Guarantee is already available to some DTRE exporters and entities registered under Authorized Economic Operators (AEO) Programme, which is a commitment of Govt: of Pakistan under WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement.

The LCCI office-bearers said that this initiative of the Federal Government has been appreciated by the Corporate Sector, as due to stuck up pay orders/bank guarantees, the industrial importers face severe liquidity crunch and problems in carrying out their operations. So this option of Corporate Guarantee will provide them some financial space to operate their businesses in a more efficient manner.

They further stated that the said initiative was also appreciated by the Senate Standing Committee on Finance & Revenue in its meeting dated 18 November 2021 which was held to discuss the Third Tax Amendment Ordinance 2021. They said that the Senate Standing Committee on Finance has already been endorsed the proposal of adding a new legal provision of corporate guarantees to be given by companies against any disputed import duty.

“However, it is being learnt that the Federal Government is reconsidering this initiative”, they said adding that such move will be a step in reverse direction and will adversely affect the businesses in these difficult economic conditions. Government should engage other stake holders to examine the issue and make strict SOPs for its implementation to benefit genuine corporate sector and to address any apprehensions regarding its usage. Any decision taken in haste will have negative consequences for the corporate sector which is already due to high prices of energy and other industrial inputs.

It is pertinent to mention here that it is The World Bank Group’s Doing Business project provides a measure of the “Ease of Doing Business” through a set of objective indicators that focus on the impacts of laws, regulations and their enforcement across 190 economies. In the last ranking (2020) Pakistan was placed at 108th position and was recognized as the top reformer in South Asia and sixth reformer in the world. All countries are assessed against six parameters and one of them is trading across the borders. Due to reforms undertaken FBR, the time taken for processing of imports/exports at ports have considerably decreased thus also bring down cost of doing business.

Meanwhile, facilitation centers of various government departments are operational effectively under one window operation at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry to facilitate its members.

According to the LCCI spokesman, Passport office is working from 9am to 1pm from Monday to Thursday while from 9am to 12 noon Friday. NADRA Office working from 9am to 1pm from Monday to Thursday and 9am to 12 noon on Friday and Saturday, Police Khidmat Markaz from 9am to 1pm from Monday to Saturday, Driving License 9am to 1pm from Monday to Saturday, WASA from 10am to 1pm from Monday to Friday, PESSI from 10am to 1pm from Monday to Friday, Excise & Taxation from 10am to 1pm from Monday to Friday, FBR from 10am to 3pm from Monday to Friday, SMEDA from 10am to 5pm from Monday to Friday, LESCO from 10am to 1pm from Monday to Friday, NADRA E Sahulat from 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday with 1pm to 2pm Lunch Break and 9am to 2pm on Saturday, Bank of Punjab from 10am to 1pm from Monday to Saturday, PIA from 10am to 1pm from Monday to Friday, PCSIR from 10am to 1pm from Tuesday to Thursday, MMBL from 10am to 1pm from Tuesday to Thursday while LDA is working from 10am to 1pm on Monday.

LCCI President Mian Nauman Kabir, Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan and Vice President Haris Ateeq said that the chamber’s efforts have not only reduce the interaction between the LCCI members and the government departments, but are also saving their precious time, as their various issues now are being sorted out under one roof.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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