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LAHORE: The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry Wednesday called for macroeconomic reforms and policy changes in consultation with stakeholders for moving towards a path of sustainable economic recovery.

In a statement, LCCI President Kashif Anwar, Senior Vice President Zafar Mahmood Chaudhry and Vice President Adnan Khalid Butt said that Asian Development Bank has identified the devastating floods in 2022, impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, security issues, structural risks and adverse external shocks as the factors in its recent report that continue to pose challenges for the economy of Pakistan.

They added that economic growth can speed up provided reservations of the business community regarding complexities in taxation system which overburden existing taxpayers are removed, refunds are paid expeditiously, discretionary powers are clipped, stagnation in agriculture sector growth is reversed and utility prices are reduced.

They said that the tax system is complicated and burdensome which creates room for complicities between tax payers and the tax collectors. They said that number of taxes and frequency of paying taxes must be reduced. “Similarly, there should be electronic communication between taxpayers and tax departments. These proposals can make noticeable difference and win the confidence of taxpayers”, they added.

They suggested that the government should take steps to control smuggling at the borders and Frontier core deployed there should be equipped with state of the art technology to make them more vigilant so that they can play their role in controlling the smuggling by exercising their authority. They suggested that the duties on such goods which are prone to smuggling should be reduced as it has been practiced successfully in many other countries. They also called for reduction in duties and taxes on raw materials, not produced locally.

They said that all export-oriented sectors, including Halal food sector, should be given zero rated facility as the country has a little share in the international Halal food trade of about 3 trillion dollars.

They said that energy mix of the country is not cost effective due to insufficient power generation from hydel power and renewable energy sources. This results in tariff hikes and makes the industry uncompetitive in the international market.

They said that the agriculture sector has a share of more than 20% in the GDP. Pakistan is importing fruits, vegetables and other agri products on large scale that is a matter of concern. They said that this particular sector should be focused and issues should be resolved at the earliest.

The LCCI office-bearers said that Political stability is the key element for economic development. Economic growth and sustainable market is not possible without political stability and creating conducive environment for investment. From the first day, Pakistan is suffering from political unpredictability that’s why investors always remained reluctant to invest in Pakistan.

They said that the continuity in economic policies is a must to achieve the economic targets. They said that the policies should not be changed with the change of regime to ensure a sustainable economic growth.

They said that the government would have to make planning for early revival of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) as these white elephants are eating up a major part of budgetary amount. They said that a developing country, which is carrying heavy load of over $ 130 billion of external debts and various other economic challenges, cannot afford to spend such a huge amount on these institutions. They said that there is a dire need of planning for these SOEs.

The LCCI office-bearers also emphasized for shift in strategy to attract much need foreign direct investment in the country. They said that Pakistan’s foreign missions abroad would have to play a key role to attract foreign investors. Foreign investors should be informed that Pakistan has lucrative opportunities for investment in various sectors of economy including textile, energy, agriculture, tourism, health, education and other sectors.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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