Punjab govt vows tax harmonisation to facilitate business community

LAHORE: The Punjab government has assured the business community that it would end almost 50 unnecessary taxes, besides unifying the labour-related taxes, and merging the professional and property taxes.

Punjab Finance Minister Makhdoom Jawan Bakhat Hashim met Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Almas Hyder at the Civil Secretariat on Monday.

The meeting was attended by the Punjab Industry and Trade Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal, Excise and Taxation Minister Hafiz Mumtaz Ahmed, Board of Revenue Minister Malik Muhammad Anwar, Finance Secretary Abdullah Sunbal, Punjab Revenue Authority (PRA) Chairman Javeed Ahmed and Lahore Tax Bar representatives.

The objective of the meeting was to address the issues of the business community, particularly regarding tax harmonisation in the province.

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The LCCI president mentioned that the business community was being compelled to pay taxes 47 times a year which increases the burden on small companies.

“Big companies manage their tax returns through their agents and lawyers while small businesses have to shut down their businesses to fulfil the department’s requirements,” he observed.

Almas Hyder suggested the government to unify different taxes so as to reduce the tax-return filing processes, besides increasing the tax collection.

The LCCI president further suggested abolishment of the infrastructure cess for development of dry ports in the province, adding that the government should also separate tax collection from service delivery.

He called for bringing an end to unnecessary monitoring of the businesses, as it creates a trust deficit between the business community and the tax authority.

Makhdoom Jawan Bakhat Hashim on the occasion acknowledged the suggestion of the business community and committed to ending around 50 unnecessary tax filling processes, unifying the labour-related taxes, and merging the professional and property taxes.

He said the government was introducing a law that would help put an end to unwanted regulations and promote trade and investment in the province. Besides, the government was revisiting the existing rules and regulations with regard to ‘ease of doing business’ by introducing business-friendly policies, he maintained.

“Redressal of the business community’s woes is among the topmost priorities of the government,” he asserted, instructing the PRA chairman to evaluate the revenue impact of abolishing the infrastructure cess from dry ports in Punjab.

“The LCCI should prepare and present a plan for the revival of the dry ports in the next meeting so that the government is able to make a final decision in this regard.”

Meanwhile, the meeting discussed the issue of the revival of the real estate. Industries Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal mentioned that property tax was an important component of the revenue system but the past governments had ignored it, resulting in the downfall of the real estate sector, which was on the verge of collapse.

Malik Muhammad Anwar on the occasion briefed the meeting that the BOR has already unified the taxes while it was considering different proposals for the revival of real estate sector.

The Excise and taxation minister briefed that all E&T departments were unifying the taxes, however, property and professional taxes could not be unified easily.

The finance minister instructed the finance department to ensure the timelines given to the different departments for the harmonisation of the taxes.

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