LAHORE: Private sector should prepare their actionable proposals and submit them timely for Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government's first federal budget 2019-20.
Likewise, the Planning Commission is formulating the 12th Five-Year Plan and Ministry of Commerce is formulating three-year Strategic Trade Policy Framework for which business community should proactively engage with the relevant departments and submit sector-specific recommendations.
These views were expressed by speakers during a roundtable meeting jointly organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and National Network of Economic Think Tanks in collaboration with Government College University here Tuesday.
They also called upon the incumbent government to strengthen inter-departmental coordination to avoid the challenge of double taxation.
Head of Punjab Urban Unit said Government of Punjab, Khalid Sherdill has formulated the Punjab Spatial Strategy with the aim to provide suitable zoning so that agricultural land could be protected.
He said policies are being reviewed to see how urban centres could allow high-rise buildings which in turn would boost the services sector economy and provide much-needed jobs for youth.
Public private models were also being studied to finalize plans through which government's ambition of providing low-cost housing could be achieved, he said and added that efforts were being made to make industrial and economic zones sustainable, he remarked.
SDPI Joint Executive Director Dr Vaqar Ahmed said there was a need to expedite work on Punjab Smart Regulation Act in order to reduce the regulatory burden on enterprises in Punjab.
He said Punjab Revenue Authority (PRA) would need to expedite collaboration with FBR (Federal Board of Revenue) so that instances of double taxation could be avoided.
Punjab government also needed to see in its growth strategy how the private sector could gain from the opportunities in the next phase of CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor) and Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
Detailed studies were required on what would be the sectors which saw high demand in China, he said and asserted that studies were also required on which sectors could present an opportunity for joint ventures between Chinese and Pakistani enterprises.
The ultimate gain from CPEC, he said, would only come if it resulted in increased exports for Pakistan, and this would require the government to negotiate a better free trade agreement (FTA) terms with China.
China also needed to promote ‘trade in services’ with Pakistan so that Pakistan’s engineering and business services exports could see expansion, he emphasized.
Addressing the roundtable meeting, Dr. Saima Sarwar, Head of Economics Department at GC University Lahore, said the focus of the next budget and future policies should be to cater to the needs of youth bulge.
She said the youth would require the appropriate and quality skills which have demand in the labour market. Mohammad Javed Afzal from Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) said they had identified 13 growth sectors which could provide jobs to a substantial number of unemployed youth.
He added that SMEDA was willing to revisit the definition of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in collaboration with other federal and provincial government and central bank.
Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry Lahore Division’s Founding President Dr. Shehla Javed Akram said the government at all levels needed to encourage the start-ups and new investors through tax breaks and recognition.
She said the government and The Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) needed to support the registration and certification requirements of industries having export potential.
Basit Asif, representing Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry urged the relevant government departments to focus on IT as a key sector for future growth.
He said a large number of youth entering the labour market could be accommodated in ICT-enabled industries.
He emphasized the need for establishing more IT parks and IT-focused special economic zones which in turn would cut down the cost of doing business for IT firms.
Kashif Anwar, President Friends of Economic & Business Reforms urged the government to reform tax policies to restore dynamism in real estate sector, which is on a downturn.
Punjab Planning & Development Department's representatives informed that provincial government had formulated the Punjab Growth Strategy which provided plans for sector-specific growth.
There was a key focus on agriculture and livestock sector development particularly in the deprived regions of Punjab including districts of South Punjab.
The representatives from the business community also highlighted the potential of the tourism sector in Punjab.
They highlighted the need for public private partnership models to set up and expand travel and hospitality initiatives and allowing start-ups in the sector to boost tourism.
For the promotion of women entrepreneurship, it was proposed that Punjab Growth Strategy and forthcoming Annual Development Plan 2019-20 could provide a budget for setting up women business parks as seen in several other regional economies.