RAWALPINDI: Local traders have pinned high hopes of relief in the mini-budget to be presented by the government in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

The traders said they were expecting relief in taxes, regulatory duties and low tariff for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Addressing a press conference, Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) President Malik Shahid Saleem said the business community was hopeful about an economic package.

He urged the government to end vagueness and uncertainty about the International Monitoring Fund (IMF) programme.

Govt should increase tax net by adding new sectors and departments rather than squeezing existing taxpayers, RCCI chief says

“There should be a clear picture for local and foreign investors on exactly what economic directions the government is heading and how much time it will take to remove anomalies and bottlenecks to put the economic engine on track.”

He said the business community appreciated that the government was considering withdrawing the ban on non-filers to purchase vehicles and properties. But there must be more taxes/duty/fees for non-filers compared to the tax filers, he added.

Mr Saleem said they would also appreciate abolition of the withholding tax on cash withdrawal from banks by the tax filers.

He said on ease of doing business index Pakistan ranked 136th and the government should take result-oriented steps to improve the ranking in the next three to five years.

Answering a question, he said the government should increase the tax network and add new sectors and departments rather squeezing the existing taxpayers.

“It is very unfortunate that we have just 1.5 million registered filers in the population of over 200 million. The active tax payers’ list must be updated on a weekly basis,” he suggested.

In reply to another question, he said the business community believed that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would serve as a game changer for the economy of Pakistan with respect to connectivity and industrial growth. But he urged the government to expedite the process and work on the CPEC special economic zones and take key stakeholders chambers of commerce on board.

He also said all export refund claims must be cleared by March 31 and equal opportunities and facilities must be provided to all other sectors, including pharma, marble, gems and poultry.

Published in Dawn, January 22nd, 2019

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