LAHORE: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir on Sunday assured the business community of fostering transparency in dollar exchange and interbank rates.
“The money exchanges would be brought under the purview of taxation, fostering transparency in dollar exchange and interbank rates,” the COAS said while talking to the business community at a meeting held at the Lahore Corps headquarters.
The army chief highlighted the pivotal role of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), emphasising its potential to attract substantial investments of up to 100 billion dollars from countries such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, and others. To bolster economic decision-making, he revealed the formation of task forces focused on economic matters and different sectors.
According to a spokesman for the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, LCCI president Kashif Anwar, alongside prominent business figures, met the COAS, sparking significant discussions on the country’s economic trajectory. Interim Chief Minister Syed Mohsin Naqvi was also present.
LCCI chief urges ‘charter of economy’ before elections
The businessperson, in alignment with the broader business community, recommended active engagement with all chambers to incorporate diverse perspectives into the task force’s agenda.
Addressing critical issues faced by the general public, Mr Anwar proposed a reduction in income and sales tax rates on electricity bills. He noted that the populace was grappling with the burden of high taxation on electricity, impacting daily lives and businesses. Additionally, he introduced a “pragmatic approach” to fuel adjustment charges, advocating for their collection during the winter months when electricity consumption is lower, alleviating financial stress on consumers.
Recognising the pivotal role of exchange rates in Pakistan’s economic landscape, the LCCI president called for greater control over the rates of the US dollar in both interbank and open markets.
In response, General Munir assured the business community of bringing money exchanges under the purview of taxation, fostering transparency in dollar exchange and interbank rates.
The LCCI president pointed out that disparity between the State Bank’s rate and the Hundi rate often leads to preference for Hundi channels when it comes to remittances.
He emphasised the importance of an enhanced and sustained interactive dialogue between the business community and relevant authorities.
He expressed concerns over the prevailing lack of responsiveness to suggestions put forth by the business sector. He also called for a unified commitment from political parties, suggesting the signing of a ‘charter of economy’ as a precondition before upcoming elections.
Expanding on General Munir’s earlier remarks regarding the existence of a grey economy which reportedly accounted for two to three times the documented economy, Mr Anwar proposed an “innovative approach”. He recommended incentivising the grey economy sector to transition into the formal, white economy, offering a strategic solution to combat this pervasive issue. He said that expansion of tax base would remain elusive as long as the grey economy remains unincorporated, unable to contribute to the formal economy.
Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2023