LAHORE: After the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz, the Pakistan Peoples Party also sees Charter of Economy vital for stabilising the financial system of the country as PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari shares his economic plan with the business community of Punjab.

Talking to members of the United Business Group at the residence of former Lahore Chamber president Shahzad Ali Malik here on Wednesday, he said that it was the PPP that had taken the initiative of signing the Charter of Democracy (CoD) and it would also initiate the process for signing the Charter of Economy after coming to power.

Sharing his economic vision with the business leaders, he said if voted to power the PPP would revamp the tax system and introduce a ‘participatory’ approach in which the federating units would be empowered to collect taxes instead of the federal authorities.

He elaborated that the federation would give a tax collection target to the federating units, which would be free to keep with them the amount collected over and above the target and contribute from their own resources if they failed to meet the target.

Promises revamp of tax collection method, Charter of Economy

“There will be no forced (tax) collection. The mechanism will be based on mutual (taxpayers and tax collectors) understanding.”

He promised that the PPP government would take all chambers on board before finalising every budget.

Responding to a query by FPCCI Punjab chapter vice-chairman Zaki Aijaz Qureshi about privatisation of state-owned entities, Mr Bhutto-Zardari said he didn’t think that any political government could privatise state institutions. He said the PPP would rather involve the private sector through a public-private partnership system for running the state-owned institutions operating in losses.

Answering a question about the need for a strong foreign policy, the former foreign minister said for this purpose “our own house must be in order” first as all friendly countries he visited during his 16-month stint as foreign minister desired political stability in Pakistan to enable them to come forward to help Islamabad (financially).

About the higher cost of energy, he said as long-term agreements had been signed with the independent power producers (IPPs) and no government could back out from them but alternative energy and green energy projects would be launched to arrest the rising electricity tariffs.

He said the PPP government would also focus on establishing special economic zones to facilitate the local investors for setting up industrial units.

Meanwhile, speaking at a workers’ convention, the PPP chairman questioned the absence of the PML-N from electioneering though the general elections were less than a month away.

He said whether the N-League wished it or not, the elections would be held in time.

He said the polls were scheduled for Feb 8 and the PPP had entered the arena, but he could not see the PML-N (candidate) against the claims that the latter holds sway in the constituency.

He asked the audience if they knew who the PML-N candidate was in the National Assembly’s constituency NA-127 (the seat Mr Bhutto-Zardari is also in the run for) and added that the PTI was also missing from the scene in the constituency.

Published in Dawn, January 11th, 2024

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