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PESHAWAR: Participants of the meeting of “1st National Network of Economic Think Tanks” have called for taking all stakeholders on board to take full business and trade benefits from China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project and Afghan Transit Trade by facilitating investors and business community.

The think tanks from various sectors urged the government to facilitate investors and the business community in the wake of CPEC and Pak-Afghan Transit Trade projects to boost the national economy. The meeting was organized under the auspices of the Sustainable Development and Policy Institute (SDPI) a non-governmental organization here at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Board of Investment and Trade (KP-BOIT), the other day, said a press release issued here on Sunday. All stakeholders including representatives of chamber of commerce and industries, academicians, government officials and media persons were present.

Addressing the meeting, Hassan Daud Butt, CEO KPBOIT said that there should be consistency in economic policies, digitalization of the national economy and archiving structure for informed decisions. He said that a research based economic policy should be implemented in the country and for the purpose universities and youth should be mobilized to do research from time to time and suggest the missing facilities and loopholes for the policy makers to play role in the decision making process.

Vice Chancellor University of Science and Technology, Bannu Dr Khizarur Zaman called for setting priorities and developing linkages between universities and trade bodies to find new vistas of investment and trade. He said that CPEC and Afghan transit trade have opened new avenues of business and investment for Pakistan and foreign and local investors are keen to invest here. He suggested that leadership of all stakeholders should have to sit together and find out ways and means about how to facilitate investor and business community.

Joint Executive Director Dr Vaqar Ahmed said that this network brings together economic think tanks from all provinces of Pakistan with the single objective of discussing and brainstorming regulatory ease of doing business. He said for the first time the governments at the federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa levels have shown openness to discuss measures for ease of doing business which shows their seriousness to facilitate investors and entrepreneurs.

He said the idea of the meeting is to really discuss sub-provincial business reforms and steps to move forward with district-level or city-level business reforms strategies, adding that the last three years have seen a plethora of city level taxes, charges, levies, and other forms of payments which increase cost of doing business in KP.

He said different districts of KP have different business potentials, some are being benefited from Afghan transit trade, some have vast potential accruing from mines and minerals and some are ready for livestock revolution. But the real challenge is to facilitate the new investors and facilitate them in doing business without any difficult, he said and added that evidence informs that the certain barriers can be addressed by legislative, regulatory and policy actions.

Deputy Collector KP Revenue Department Fazal Amin Shah said the government reduced the rate of different taxes in the province to facilitate the entrepreneurs and investors and it only introduces tax once in a year and no mini budget throughout the year. He told the participants of the meeting that during COVID the KP Government collected Rs 22 billion revenue which was ample proof business friendly policies. He assured to convey the suggestions of the meeting to the government for incorporation in the decision making process and also assured consultation of the business community in the provincial budget.

Former president, Peshawar Chamber of Small Traders and Industry Adnan Jalil said that the energy crisis is adversely affecting the overall economic growth. Beside, load shedding of electricity and gas, high prices of solar energy have made it difficult for investors and industrialists to do business. He said that the imposition of new federal taxes is also affecting the business activities and suggested that industrialists should be allotted subsidized plots in new industrial zones and youth should be encouraged to come forward and invest in new sectors.

Haris Mufti, ex-Senior Vice President Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), proposed developing linkages among stakeholders and facilitation of investors and entrepreneurs. He said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zones Development and Management Company (KP-EZDMC) should focus on provision of facilities in already developed industrial areas instead of giving more attention to new industrial zones where no facilities are available. He said that the business community should be educated about new taxes and banking channels and new policies from time to time.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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