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KARACHI: Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on Thursday said the proposed budget for the fiscal year 2022-23 is apparently satisfactory; however the apex trade body will come up with its final response in days to come after going through the Finance Bill.

Shabbir Hassan Mansha Churra, Vice President FPCCI while giving his reaction on budget, said the government’s move for enhancing the minimum tax exemption slab limit for salaried class from the existing Rs 600,000 to Rs 1.2 million is a step in the right direction under the grim economic circumstance. This move will benefit the salaried persons.

Talking to Business Recorder, he said the government has also announced to accelerate infrastructure development activities, at special economic zones (SECs) which would attract both local and foreign investment in this crucial time.

Previous governments made announcements for the development of Port Qasim on different occasions in the last 25 years, but to no avail. He said the government should bound Port Qasim Authority (PQA) to develop Port Qasim area for the investment purpose which is feasible for investment, since it is in close proximity of Karachi.

He said food security is one of the major challenges; however, the federal finance minister Miftah Ismail in his budget speech did not announce any plan in this regard. The government should have come up with a clear cut policy related to cold storage facilities which will actually benefit the farmer community. “Our farmers are forced to dispose perishable fruits, and vegetables due to non availability of proper cold storage in the country. If the farmers had such storage facilities, the prices of fruits and vegetables would not be so high these days.

Federal budget: Govt to provide relief to industrial sector: minister

For the industrialization, the government has announced some incentives related to import of plants and machinery which is good step. But, no incentive has been announced for the corporate farming, Shabbir said. We have to opt for modern technology in order to enhance efficiency, productivity, and compete with our regional players. For example, the drip irrigation technology helps cultivation of deserted land by saving water. Likewise, modern farms enhance production as countries like Israel and India are one of the best examples who earn huge revenues through modern farming, he said.

Sales tax exemption has been granted on import and supply of all types of seeds which will help boost our agriculture production and activities.

He urged the government to regulate this sector, saying the inferior quality seeds will damage crops, resulting into huge financial losses to farmers.

Import and supply of solar panels (PV module) has been exempted from sales tax, and this step will encourage people to go for alternative, clean and cheaper energy.

He said Rs 65 billion budget for higher education is minimal. Also, the Higher Education Commission of Pakistan (HECP) needs structural changes, particularly with a vision to promote IT sector of the country. Government should invest more in IT sector to boost its economy and exports. He was of the view that most of our fresh graduates lack related knowledge and expertise in accordance with the market requirements.

He welcomed the government’s proposed move to disburse loans to some 2 million students with 25 percent share of it fixed for the female students.

The FPCCI vice president further said the government has given no relief to overseas Pakistanis who are backbone to our economy. They contributed some $28 billion remittances last year, and the government has set a target of $ 33 billion for the financial year 2023.

More than 1,000 overseas promoters are there in Pakistan. The government should hire them as trainers to train our potential youth in the field of IT. “If we are able to train some 1 million youth annually as IT experts, we will become a prosperous nation in years to come.”

The previous government had also made efforts to facilitate IT sector, but they were still too little. “Train a trainer programme” should be introduced immediately, he said. There is a dearth of trainers in Pakistan. The demand for IT professional is growing globally, and many countries including Japan have been seeking IT experts from Pakistan, but we have not been able to produce them, despite we have huge human resource potential. Our youth consists 60 percent of the total population.

He said India is exporting IT goods and services worth $ 150 billion plus and it has $50billion domestic market, but our exports of IT stand at $2.7 billion.

“Pakistan is number four in freelancing globally, and that too without any government supervision. We can get rid of IMF loans, if worked seriously on the IT sector,” Shabbir concluded.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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