FY21 budget: Hafeez Shaikh vows redressal of business community’s woes

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Abdul-Hafeez-Shiekh

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Friday said the government was actively resolving the liquidity related issues of the business community by clearing all outstanding tax refunds on a fast-track basis.

“The government was also taking progressive measures for further ease of doing business and to improve business environment, particularly for small and medium enterprises,” he said while talking to the office-bearers and members of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI).

The FPCCI members held a detailed on-video interaction with the adviser and his team at the Finance Division and apprised them of their issues, besides presenting various proposals and recommendations for consideration in the upcoming federal budget.

Federal Board of Revenue Chairperson Nausheen Javaid Amjad, Finance Secretary Naveed Kamran Baloch, FPCCI President Mian Anjum Nisar, former federation president Zakaria Usman and several other office-bearers and members of FPCCI also took part in the discussion.

Hafeez Shaikh said the government was open to considering the genuine and realistic budgetary proposals, including the establishment of industrial zones, uplift of infrastructure, rationalisation of tariff and duties, and promotion of SMEs in the country.

Earlier, the FPCCI officials brought to the notice of the adviser progress on their recent meetings with the FBR chairperson and her team on resolution of their issues.

They wanted waiver of demurrage charges for stuck-up containers as well as clearance of vehicles stuck at the ports for want of encashment certificates due to prevailing COVID-19 situation, reduction of regulatory duty on the import of tyres.

They thanked the adviser and his team for expediting clearance of outstanding tax refunds and conceded that it was for the first time in history that they had been receiving their outstanding tax refunds at their doorsteps without any hassle.

They also shared several proposals and recommendations for facilitating and incentivising businesses and promoting ease of doing business in the country.

The adviser assured the business leaders that the government would resolve all their genuine issues and implement realistic proposals and recommendations for the promotion of business activities in the country.

FPCCI DISCUSSES BUDGET PROPOSALS WITH FBR:

Separately, FPCCI held a video-link conference with FBR to discuss its proposals for the ensuing federal budget 2020-21 at its regional offices FPCCI Karachi, Islamabad, Lahore and Peshawar offices.

FPCCI President Mian Anjum Nisar told FBR officials that severe and adverse impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on various aspects of Pakistan’s economy is quite discern, which might lead to negative growth rate, deterioration in current and fiscal balance, disruption in supply chain, increased employment rate etc.

“This underscores the need to take extraordinary steps to support trade and industry to ensure their survival on sound footings such as reduction in utility tariffs; taxation rates (Income Tax / WHT , Sales Tax , FED etc.) at least for six months and thereafter may be reviewed keeping in view of the economic scenario,” he proposed.

Nisar disclosed that the corporate tax rate @ 29pc in Pakistan is highest in the region which due to multiplicity of taxes (2pc WWF + 5pc WPF) goes up to 36pc and as such provides incentive for its evasion and encourage corruption.

Zakaria Usman, the Convener of the FPCCI Budget Advisory Council (BAC), urged the bureau that the apex trade body of stakeholders, FPCCI should always be consulted in preparation of policies related to trade and industry.

He proposed to waive the demurrage and detention charges, keeping in view of the lockdown situation due to COVID-19. He further said that the customs tariff be levied on the basis of cascading to curb post-budget anomalies.

The Convener of the BAC proposed to encourage import substitution industries and export of non-traditional items.

Ashfaq Tola proposed that tax credit should also be allowed to AOP and individuals as they also make investment.

Zeeshan Merchant said the number of WHT be reduced by exempting low yielding avenues like telephone bill, school fee etc.

Zakaria Usman proposed that the rental income from property, AOP or individual and company be taxed at a uniform rate of 15pc of the gross rent as full and final discharge of tax liability.

Regarding CNIC condition, the FBR chairperson said the agreement has been made with traders and could be reversed.

She added, “Refunds are fully automated under FASTER; amendment in Annexure-F & H should be identified by the exporters for FBR consideration; tax on machinery would be abolished; reduction in sales tax rate would not be reduced to a single digit as it would bankrupt the economy of the country; while further tax rate would be reduced.

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