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LAHORE: Punjab Governor Muhammad Balighur Rehman said on Thursday that the business community is contributing to the country’s economy by paying taxes. He said this while talking to a delegation of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) which was led by its President Mian Nauman Kabir on Thursday. During the meeting, the problems faced by the business community and measures taken to increase exports were discussed.

Speaking on the occasion, the Governor said that business activities bring prosperity in the country as the business community plays an important role in the national economy and business activities through provision of job opportunities to millions of people. “The PML-N government has always solved the problems of traders on priority basis while political stability is very important for economic development in the country,” he said.

The Governor maintained that during the previous tenure of PML-N, there was progress in all sectors including education and health. He said that Muslim League-N installed power plants to solve the problem of power shortfall during the previous tenure. He added that the government is ensuring all possible resources to set the country’s economy on the right track.

Nauman Kabir said, “We should work on exporting products apart from traditional exports. There is a need to increase trade and exports with ASEAN and African countries.” He also apprised the Governor that the commercial banks are exploiting the business community by demanding 10 to 15 rupees over and above the inter-bank dollar rate for releasing the import shipment documents. The State Bank should ensure its full oversight on the commercial banks and ensure that Banks release the documents at the inter-bank rate, he added.

As per circular dated 5 July 2022 of the State Bank of Pakistan, prior approval for the import of Machinery (Chapter 84 and 85) would be required from the State Bank of Pakistan and only after this approval; the Banks would release the import shipment documents. The process of getting the said approval from the State Bank would take 10 to 15 days. As a result, the members of business community would have to face demurrage on the shipments. He requested the Governor Punjab to take up this issue with the State Bank of Pakistan.

The LCCI Chief said, “There is a need for establishing Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Lahore as the two major industrial estates in Lahore (Sundar and Quaid-e-Azam Industrial Estates) have reached their full capacity and the cost of land for the business community in the existing Industrial Estates has reached to exorbitantly high levels.”

He said that in the Federal Budget Speech, it was announced that a fixed tax regime for small retailers will be introduced whereby the fixed tax starting from Rs3,000 will be collected along with the electricity bills. However, the small retailers are being charged double the amount in the electricity bills as GST which is not refundable. The FBR has not clarified the criteria through which this GST in electricity bills has been imposed, he added. He requested the Governor Punjab to take up this issue with the FBR.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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