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FAISALABAD: Reliable, consultative process between policy makers and business community is imperative to handle the most complicated issues of political instability, rise in cost of production, low tax net and lack of diversification which is a stumbling block for the speedy industrial growth of Pakistan.

Addressing a delegation of the participants of the 34th Mid Career Management Course of the National Institute of Management (NIM) Lahore during its visit to Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FCCI) here today, President Atif Munir Sheikh briefly introduced Faisalabad and FCCI. He said that Faisalabad is the third largest city of Pakistan which is second in revenue generation after Karachi.

Atif Munir said “Textile is the iconic representation of this city, and this city was contributing 45% share in total textile export of Pakistan”. He said that its share in total export of Pakistan is also 24% while it is catering 82% needs of the domestic cloth and clothing. He said that Faisalabad has largest and state-of-the-art industrial estates which are attracting domestic as well as foreign investors.

He said that FIEDMC has established Value Addition City, M3 and Allama Iqbal Industrial Estates where 65 foreign units are also operating. “Among these include ceramic, Coca-Cola tin pack and Nishat Hyundai etc”, he said and added that many more investors from Turkey, China and Malaysia are also planning to establish their units as the government has declared these industrial estates as special economic zones with the facility of ten-year tax holiday. He said that a foreign facilitation desk has also been established in FIEDMC for the speedy approval of NOCs under one roof. He said that applications for high-risk industries are disposed of within 90 days while cases of medium risk and low risk industries are processed within 60 and 30 days respectively.

Atif Munir Sheikh said that Faisalabad is strategically located in the heart of Pakistan which is well connected through rail, road and air. He said that two state of the art motorways pass through east and west of Faisalabad city. He said that apart from textile, other sectors of economy including fibre, soap, detergent and light engineering etc are also contributing their role in the overall development of this city and Pakistan.

He said that recommendations of FCCI are being given full weightage because of its economic importance. “FCCI is also taking an active part in budget formulation”, he said and added but some of our proposals are being denied constantly. He said that the government failed to enhance the tax-net despite our repeated requests. He said that our current tax net is abysmally poor as we have only 2.16 million taxpayers from the population 220-240 million. He said that the tax net has been broadened slightly due to the computerization but it is still insufficient.

Atif Munir Sheikh also underlined the need for the charter of economy as political uncertainty has devastating impacts. He said that FCCI is an apolitical organization working under the regularity control of the Ministry of Commerce. He said that our main functions are to bridge the gap between government and business community, encourage imports substitution industry and attract maximum FDI. He said that the cost of doing business has increased manifold due to the appreciation of the dollar. He also expressed concern over the un-proportionate difference between direct and indirect taxes and said that indirect taxes are fomenting poverty in addition to creating a wide gap between rich and poor. He mentioned the first ever Pakistan Economic Conference organized by the FCCI and said that it was attended by the Presidents of 62 chambers, 16 small chambers and 14 women chambers in addition to the 350 serious participants. Similarly, 9 Federal and Provincial Ministers, top faculty and best moderators conducted the different events.

He said that the objective of this conference was to highlight untapped potential of other sectors excluding textile. He said that special sessions were held on Islamic banking, value addition in agriculture products, E commerce, IT, tourism, solar and health sectors etc. He said that it was a total success and immediately after this mega event, four MOUs were inked in different innovative sectors. He said that former commerce advisor Abdul Razak Dawood had acknowledged this successful conference in his tweet by saying that Faisalabad would lead the national economy in the coming years.

He also responded to the questions of the participants and said that the facility of online visa on arrival is better than the previous system but due to the changed rating, Pakistan has been excluded by many countries. About low production of cotton, he said that we have to import 33% cotton or cotton yarn to meet our domestic needs which has increased our cost of production.

He further said that 19 major exporters from Faisalabad participated in the Dubai Expo while a 7 member FCCI delegation also attended it. Responding to a question, he said that 1.15 million workers are directly linked with the textile sector, out of which many have been rendered jobless due to the current recession. He said that industrialists had placed orders for the purchase of machinery worth 400 billion dollars but its installation was delayed due to political uncertainty and appreciation of dollar.

Senior Vice President Imran Mehmood Sheikh said that Punjab has been discriminated against in gas rates as it is provided to us at 9 dollars while only 6.5 dollars per mmbtu is charged from other provinces. He said that most industrial units are working with fifty percent of their installed capacity.

A presentation on FCCI was also given while Vice President Rana Fayyaz and Azhar Chaudhry offered vote of thanks. Later Atif Munir Sheikh and Muhammad Farooq Directing Staff NIM Lahore exchanged shields of their respective organizations.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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