The All Pakistan Business Forum (APBF), while calling for a downward revision of General Sales Tax to 12 per cent and bringing all untaxed sectors into the tax net, proposed the budget makers to broaden tax net by bringing agriculture income in tax net, as the sector contributes about 22 per cent to the GDP but its tax share is almost zero.
On the other hand, the industrial sector contributes up to 65 per cent to the revenue though its share in the GDP is 26 per cent. The federal budget 2013-14 should prioritise energy sector and enforcement of law and order, as Pakistan’s economic revival depends on availability of cheaper and non-stop power, and gas supply. This was the crux of the APBF Budget proposals for the year 2013-14, finalised after getting feedback from various sectors. Almost all the sectors called for immediate measures to bridge electricity demand-supply gap.
Addressing the executive committee meeting, APBF Chairman Syed Nabeel Hashmi said that enhancing share of direct taxes in revenue and lowering the slab of indirect taxes, besides lowering of tariffs on smuggling-prone items would help achieve key economic targets set for the next fiscal year.
Besides, notable industrialists, Shah Faisal Afridi President Fata APBF, Yaqoob Izhar CEC APBF, Ahmed Shahzad, Mudasser Masood, Ahmed Fahim President KPK APBF, Imtiaz Ahmed Metro Group attended the meeting. The business leader urged the government to make the new budget according to the proposal prepared by the real stakeholders, including the APBF.
The newly elected government will confidently present a business-friendly budget, and the revival of the economy will gain pace, he said and added that all segments of the community, including businesses, small and big traders, industrialists and the people, were happy and hopeful than an era of reconstruction of the Pakistani economy will begin soon that will lead to prosperity.
“In order to tackle the energy shortages, maximum funds should be allocated for construction of dams or water reservoirs, tapping of Thar Coal, completion of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline, establishment of LNG terminals and building of secure transit lines for LPG.”
Hashmi said that austerity should be the theme of the budget document and for the purpose the government would have to cut off the unnecessary expenditures as excessive government borrowing was not only resulting in higher interest rates but also restricting availability of cheaper liquidity for the private sector. He urged the government to broaden the tax net by bringing the agriculture and services sectors into the tax net. Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs) like PIA, Railways and Pakistan Steel Mills should be managed professionally or be privatised to avoid the huge loss to the national exchequer.
The APBF strongly recommend that there should be absolute Exemption of Sales Tax and Custom Duties on import of industrial raw material and plant and equipment. Reliance on costly thermal power has been jacking up the cost of production and the import bill as well.
“The country is in dire need of an urgent shift in its energy-mix in favour of hydel power and local fuels. Use of biogas should be promoted throughout the rural sector both for electricity generation and gas for cooking besides producing bio fertiliser. But in order to ensure utilisation of all the energy mixes in a balanced way it is important that we correct the pricing disparity between local and imported fuels.
Rising risk perception about investing into Pakistan has been hitting hard the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) that fell sharply and needed to be tackled through a comprehensive policy approach by involving private business bodies and individuals.
We need to start a comprehensive international marketing program for image building of Pakistan. Rapid improvement and change is also needed in the government bureaucracy, which is not only complacent but also corrupt. “We feel that this will seriously jeopardise Nawaz Sharifs’ development programme and reforms agenda” he added.
“Infrastructure development, coal, energy, agriculture, livestock, textiles, auto and pharmaceutical sectors offer lucrative investment opportunities to foreign investors but a lack of a proper and well-tailored marketing strategy hampers investors. We also strongly urge the GOP to enhance education and health funding with a parallel overhauling of the provincial education and health departments. The common man must get these benefits which are the responsibility of the state.” he said.