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LAHORE: The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has recognized the services and best performance of 12 top companies at Achievement Recognition Ceremony 2023 at President House Islamabad.

It was a historic day for LCCI as President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi paid rich tributes to Lahore Chamber for working for the promotion and encouragement of businesses and all segments of society.

President of Pakistan Dr Arif Alvi and LCCI President Kashif Anwar addressed the prestigious gathering while Senior Vice President Zafar Mahmood Chaudhry, Vice President Adnan Khalid Butt, Convener of LCCI Standing Committee Muhammad Haroon Arora, LCCI Executive Committee Members, former office-bearers and large number of representatives of business community were present on the occasion.

Dr Arif Alvi, along with LCCI President Kashif Anwar, gave Leading Achievement to Sheikh CEO of Six B Food Industry M Tahir Anjum, Excellence Achievement Shield to Director of Popular Group Naveed Rafiq, Director of Sadiq Gelatin Ltd M Umair Arshad, Chief Scientist of Long Ping High Tech Yang Yuanzhu and Director of Ittehad Chemicals Ltd Abdul Hai Khatri, Emerging Achievement Shield to Executive Group Director of Tara Group Pakistan Ch Maqsood Ahmad, CEO Co Build Malik Abdul Rasheed, CEO Haji Muhammad Rice & Processing Mills Haji Amin Ullah, Director of Vital Foods Sheikh Asif Mehmood, MD of Impressive Bio Pharma Raja Abdul Raheem, CEO JNJ Polymer Industries Junaid Afzal and CEO Fine Packages Pvt Ltd M Ehtisham Rashid.

Former president Farooq Iftikhar, former EC Member Tahmina Saeed Ch, Secretary General Lahore Chamber Shahid Khalil, Legal Advisor Lahore Chamber Khurram Abbas Sheikh were also honored with an honorary shield.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Arif Alvi underscored the need of making collective efforts by all the stakeholders to address some of the chronic social and economic issues of the country, impacting the national economy.

The president called upon the private sector including the industrialists and traders to come forward and share the responsibility in this regard by uplifting the plight of downtrodden strata of society, besides lending a helping hand in resolving the serious issue of about 28 million out of school children.

He urged the industrialists and well to do segments of society to come forward and play their active role as the country desperately needed their support.

The vulnerable people in the society should be provided with education and health facilities so that they could also get equal opportunities as such models were being followed across the globe, he added.

Referring to number of out of school children, the president said that he considered it as “a matter of serious concern” and considering the enormity of task, collective efforts were required. He said these endeavours should be focused on serving the huge human resource potential in the country whose talents could be fully utilized locally by imparting them proper education and skillsets, instead merely exporting them abroad as manpower. These out of school children should be educated and imparted skills for the future of the country, he added.

“As a nation, we should set and go after our priorities in the economic and social sectors and turn our country stronger. If we are able to address our past mistakes, the change will come round,” he observed.

The president also lauded the establishment of Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) and said that such like initiatives were needed to stabilize the economy by attracting and fast tracking the foreign investment and further spurring the ease of doing business in the country.

He mentioned that recent crackdown on illegal smuggling had yielded positive impacts on the local industry and stressed upon continuity of such like policies.

The president also referred to importance of pricing of water in the domestic and agriculture use so as to control its wastage. He also emphasized for increasing the tax net and bringing the eligible individuals and businesses under tax net and asked for promoting the transparent individual payment system in the country.

The president advised the industrialists, traders and exporters to avail of the facility of filing their grievances with the Federal Tax Ombudsman Office that was tasked to decide the matters within a short period of sixty days.

The president citing the Islamic history, stressed upon the need of “forgiveness” in the society and said that different political parties were asking for level playing field in the upcoming elections.

About situation in Gaza, the president termed the Israeli aggression as manifestation of “barbarity and cruelty” and said so far, in the ongoing conflict about 10,000 Palestinians lost their lives, majority among them were children and women.

In the world marred by vested interests, he said the world was looking for morality based decisions.

Earlier, President LCCI Kashif Anwar, in his address highlighted the significance of addressing certain issues like the inflation, lack of skilled manpower, weakening of local tender against dollar, broadening of tax net, cost of doing business to increase exports and increasing the local and foreign investment.

Terming the SIFC as the positive initiative, he said that the LCCI would welcome the opening of barter trade with different countries.

LCCI President Kashif Anwar praised Dr Arif Alvi for playing an excellent role for the business community and said that the way the First Lady is working for women empowerment and breast cancer awareness is an example for all of us.

He said that this event is organized to acknowledge and highlight the achievements of entrepreneurs who have excelled in their business fields. He said that the continuous depreciation of the rupee against the dollar led to problems such as high industrial production costs, inflation, high mark-up rates and high utility prices.

Kashif Anwar said that due to the excellent measures taken by the government, the dollar rate decreased significantly and the difference between the inter-bank and open market dollar rates has also ended. He said that the value of the rupee is again falling, which has to be controlled immediately and the dollar rate should be brought below Rs 200.

He said that the volume of remittances of overseas Pakistanis had decreased by 4 billion dollars last year. It is expected that remittances will see a record increase due to efforts of the government.

The LCCI president said that the Lahore Chamber will cooperate with the government for tax net expansion. Kashif Anwar said that stakeholders should be taken on board before policy making. Businessmen should be informed about the benefits being taxpayer.

He said that regulatory duties, customs duties and additional customs duties should be abolished on imported essential raw materials, components and machinery which is not manufactured in the country. He said that LCs are not opening due to shortage of foreign exchange. Demurrage, detention charges on many import consignments have exceeded their own value which should be eliminated to keep the industry running. Apart from this, the rate of withholding tax for the business sector should be reduced and the issues of pending refunds and multiple audits issues should also be resolved.

He said that it is commendable that the policy rate is not increased recently but there is a need to bring it down which will improve the economic situation.

He emphasized the need to focus on industrialization, import substitution and valuation. He said that the establishment of the Special Investment Facilitation Council is a very good step which will make it possible to get investment from friendly countries in the fields of Defence, IT, Agriculture, Mines and Minerals and Energy.

The LCCI president said that promoting Islamic banking is welcome initiative. He appreciated the government’s initiatives to promote barter trade with Iran, Afghanistan and Russia and said that barter trade should be started with countries that do not have proper banking channels with Pakistan. He said that solar energy should be promoted. Apart from this, special attention should be given to the construction of new water reservoirs and dams, especially the Kala Bagh Dam. State-owned enterprises running in loss should be restructured or privatized.

He said that attention should be paid to the skilled manpower in the country which can be sent abroad to earn a lot of foreign exchange. He said that before the elections, all the political parties should sign a charter of economy. He said that it has been 100 years since Lahore Chamber came into existence and it is determined to play a role in the economic improvement of the country.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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