Business community divided over federal budget

–LCCI president lauds govt for extending tax exemptions; ICCI terms FY21 budget as ‘balanced’  

–KP businessmen demand reduction in mark-up rate, general sales tax

LAHORE/PESHAWAR: Heads of various chambers of commerce in the country have expressed mixed reactions on the federal budget 2020-21, urging the government to take extraordinary steps to overcome challenges faced due to the spread of Covid-19.

Addressing a press conference on Friday, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh appreciated that the government had presented a tax-free budget but raised reservations regarding the budget not meeting some demands of the chamber.

The LCCI president also welcomed the allocation of funds for the agriculture sector and power and water projects. 

He said that the exemption of customs’ duties on the import of raw materials of Butyl Acetate, syringes and saline infusion sets; reduction of customs’ duty on the import of wire rod; and exemption of customs’ duties on import of machinery are laudable measures taken by the government.

Meanwhile, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) President Muhammad Ahmed Waheed termed the government’s budget as “balanced”, given the economic difficulties created by the spread of Covid-19. 

The ICCI president also lauded the government for reduced the customs duty on 40 raw materials of various industries, besides lowering customs duty on 90 tariff lines from 11pc to 3pc.

He noted that the government has also reduced federal excise duty on cement from Rs2 per kg to Rs1.75 per kg, which will reduce the price of cement and boost construction activities. He also appreciated the government decision to not impose any additional taxes in the budget. 

On the other hand, Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) President Saboor Malik stated that the budget “fell below the business community’s expectations”.

“We welcome that no new tax has been imposed, but the revenue target in the budget has been set at Rs4,963 billion. This is impractical and does not reflect the ground realities. We demand that the government must review its revenue targets,” he maintained.

He said that the chamber had proposed to reduce the sales tax from 17pc to 5pc, which was not reflected in the budget. 

Similarly, the business community of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) has also expressed disappointment on the federal budget.

The KP business community expressed concerns that the government had not incorporated their proposals in the budget, urging the government to revisit its proposals.

Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) President Engineer Maqsood Anwar Pervaiz said that the reduction in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth “is not good for the country’s economy”. 

He said that despite an improvement in Pakistan’s global ranking of ease of doing business from 136 to 108, no substantial increase in foreign investment had taken place. He urged the government to further work on ease of doing business.

The chamber president also urged the government to extend relief to the business community without giving preferential treatment to any specific industry or sector. 

Maqsood Pervaiz opined that the prevailing 17pc sale tax rate discourages people from coming under the tax net. 

He demanded the government to further bring down markup rate from 8pc to 6pc so as to revive businesses and stabilise the country’s economy suffering the negative effects of the spread of coronavirus. 

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Aziz Buneri
Aziz Buneri
Author is a senior journalist and working in the field of journalism since 2004. He covers Financial, Social, Political and regional issues for Pakistan today and Profit. He can reached at [email protected]
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