FAISALABAD. Economic survival of Pakistan hinges upon speedy, reliable and sustained industrial growth and in this connection Punjab Government must forward effective, result oriented and pro-industrial proposals to be included in the Federal budget for the next financial year of 2021-22, said Engineer Hafiz Ihtasham Javed President Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FCCI).
He was addressing a zoom conference organized by the Planning & Development department of the Punjab. It was participated by the different chambers of commerce and industry of the Punjab province. “Provincial government will finalize comprehensive budget proposals’ ‘, he hoped and said that the present government had focused on a tri-pronged strategy to gear up the economic development. These include enabling an environment for industrial growth through Ease Of Doing Business, trimming Cost Of Production and catalysing Industrial Development. He quoted the saying of Federal Minister Mr. Shoukat Tareen that industrial growth is prerequisite to achieve progress and prosperity.
Engineer Hafiz Ihtasham Javed said that Faisalabad is the third major city, which is playing a pivotal role in the overall economic development of Pakistan. “Being a hub of the textile sector Faisalabad has the privilege to formulate first progressive textile policy even before the PTI came into power”, he said and disclosed that he himself prepared the component relating to the processing sector. “It also included fixation of electricity tariff at 6.5 cent and gas at 7.5 cent.
Appreciating the government’s endeavours, he said that it provided best opportunities to the industrial sector even during the corona lockdown. “I am currently serving FIEDMC as its acting Chief Executive Officer (CEO)”, he disclosed and added that he had a chance to closely witness and examine the problems confronted by the foreign investors. He said that one window operation is working just as a post office. He stressed the need to make this facility result oriented in accordance with its true spirit for which necessary legislation is imperative. He said that our concerned departments are handicapped when foreign investors demand comparative analysis of different aspects regarding our regional competitors including Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Vietnam etc. He said that overcrowding of departments is creating problems instead of facilitating the investors.
Engineer Hafiz Ihtasham Javed said that the government provided maximum facilities to the industrial sector during the corona outbreak. Relief was provided in electricity bills to the SME sector but this facility was short-lived. He also mentioned TUF (Technology Up-gradation Fund) and said that it helped the industrial sector to replace the old, obsolete and redundant power looms with new and hi-tech looms. “During this period at least 40-50 thousand looms were added”, he said and added that the share of direct exporters in exports is only 30-33% while indirect exporters are contributing 66% share. He lamented that the DTRE facility is only doled out to the direct exporters but it should also be extended to the indirect exporters.
President FCCI said that the Prime Minister is proceeding abroad to host an international conference on global environmental changes. He said that scientifically organized and planned industrial estates must be established in every city. “The scattered industrial units must be shifted to these estates where pollution could be easily contained”, he hoped.
Engineer Hafiz Ihtasham Javed also explained the problems confronted by the Faisalabad Dry Port and said that local importers and exporters have to pay double taxation in the form of Provincial Road Infrastructure Development cess i.e. first in Sindh and then in Punjab on each and every import and export consignment originated from this up country port. He said that he had three successive meetings with the Provincial Finance Minister who has assured to withdraw it in the upcoming provincial budget.
Regarding energy, he said that the government must freeze electricity and gas tariffs for five years so that investors could freely implement long-term policies. He said that a new textile policy was also pending. “It must be approved and announced at the earliest, as we could not stabilize our economy without enhancing our exports to at least 35-40 billion dollar”, he added. He chided the previous government and said that he had turned Pakistan into a consumer economy instead of promoting the industrial sector, which is imperative for creating new job opportunities. He said that FCCI was demanding zero-rating for the export sector. “However, if it is not possible then the rate of sale tax must be brought down to single digit”, he said and critical of arm-twisting of existing taxpayers. He said that the government should broaden the taxnet to enhance revenue collection. He said that everyone should pay tax and in this connection, the exemption of 3% is a major hurdle in weeding out the black economy. He proposed Business Cards in the pattern of “Kissan Cards” and no one would be allowed to make any sale or purchase without this card. He also demanded lucrative incentives to the taxpayers to attract new taxpayers. In this connection, special helpdesks should be established in airports and railway stations. About the yarn crisis of last year, President FCCI reiterated his previous demand for forensic audits of yarn like sugar fraud. “It will help us to identify the fate of locally produced 80 million bales of cotton”, he added. He said that we cannot achieve the export targets without value addition and hence we must focus on value addition in all sectors of the economy.
Engineer Hafiz Ihtasham Javed particularly mentioned the inflation and said that regulatory organizations must play a proactive role to containing the prices of different items. He said that yield of different commodities has increased substantially which will give direct benefit to the farmers in addition to supporting the national economy. However, he lamented that the price of fertilizer has increased manifold and the government must subsidize it to facilitate the growers. He criticised the intermediaries and said that they enjoy a major chunk of profit. He said that the government must take measures to pass on maximum profit to the farmers. He hoped that the planning and development department would prepare comprehensive proposals, which will help the government to stabilise the economy on sustained and solid grounds. The office bearers of different chambers including Gujranwala, Sialkot, Rawalpindi, Lahore, Bahawalpur and Multan in addition to the FCCI attended the zoom meeting.