KARACHI: President Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) Agha Shahab Ahmed Khan, while highlighting numerous discussions held at a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan in Islamabad on Thursday, said that the Prime Minister sought suggestions from the business & industrial community on how to improve exports of the country for which KCCI stressed the need to establish Promo Councils in order to effectively promote the exports of surgical goods, fruits & vegetables, marbles, gems & jewelry and many other products.
“In this regard, the Commercial Counselors of Pakistan who are discharging their duties at some of the most lucrative export markets around the world, will also have play a more proactive role while the proposed Promo Councils must comprise of all the relevant stakeholders. For these Promo Councils, KCCI has identified around 36 sectors in which exports can be promoted by focusing on the value addition and through effective marketing”, President KCCI while sharing details of the meeting with PM which was also attended by PM’s Advisor for Commerce Razzak Dawood, Advisor for Finance Hafeez Shaikh, Chairman Federal Board of Revenue Shabbar Zaidi and representatives from different Chambers of Commerce & Industry.
Agha Shahab informed that the Prime Minister, while agreeing to KCCI’s suggestion for setting up Promo Councils, asked Razzak Dawood to look into the possibility of setting up these Promo Councils as it was really essential to promote all the exports from different sectors. The PM further stated that four members from the business community will be chosen to carry out case to case study of NAB cases against businessmen so that business community is not harassed.
He further informed that in response to KCCI’s concerns over slow processing of refund cases under the recently launched FASTER Module for e-refunds, the business community was told that whoever completely fulfils all the requirements of Annexure H will absolutely have no problems in obtaining the refunds through FASTER module yet if anyone faces problems even after fulfilling Annexure H conditions, they can certainly approach the FBR and they will be fully assisted.
Agha Shahab, while appreciating the first-ever e-commerce policy framework announced by the present government, said that it was the need of the hour as globally the dynamics were changing and everyone has switched to e-commerce and e-payments. Keeping in view the expansion witnessed in online businesses in Pakistan, the government will also have to look into the possibility of devising some kind of a system to legalize online payment systems like Paypal and others being used around the world. He said that 50 percent of Pakistan’s population comprises of young generation aging in between 18 to 30 years hence, any initiative devised to promote e-commerce would certainly open up more avenues for this youth .
While commenting on the Advisory Council, President KCCI stated that this Council comprises of top business tycoons only who are not portraying the actual picture about the problems being faced by the business community as they are unaware about the ground realities. Hence, in order to get the actual picture and resolve the issues of the business community which were hampering the economic growth, the Prime Minister Imran Khan will have to visit the Karachi Chamber as it holds a huge and diversified membership base from a small shopkeeper to a leading industrialist.
Referring to the ongoing CNIC issue between the FBR and Small Traders, he said that the Karachi Chamber was not against the CNIC condition but it should be gradually implemented. In response, representatives of the business community were categorically informed that the CNIC condition cannot be deferred for a year or more. They (the small traders) will have to assure that they are going to fulfill this condition and then the government can look into giving some extension or leniency period for implementation of the same but this extension will not be given for a period of one year or more which was not possible.
Agha Shahab said that keeping in view the resolve and determination of the present government, the business and industrial community of Karachi was fairly optimistic that improvements would soon be witnessed but currently the wheels of the industry were suffering terribly due to stagnation. “I also urged the government to pay attention to the economy first so that some of the most pressing economic issues could be timely addressed while strategies must also be devised to promote the start-ups and for revival of the Industry while politics must be carried out later”, he added.
On the occasion, Former President KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda requested that keeping in view the immense contribution being made by the business community, it should be declared as the fourth pillar of the economy. He also welcomed the government’s decision to open Torkham Border 24/7 which was undoubtedly a positive step but on the other hand, the government must devise an effective strategy to strictly curb the smuggling in order to save the local industries and the economy from suffering grave losses.
He further requested the government revisit Trade Organizations Ordinance 2013 which was agreed by Advisor Razzak Dawood while province-wise export data must also be publicized to see the progress, promote healthy competition and accordingly announce performance-based incentives. He further suggested that after the abolition of Final Tax Regime, there was no point in continuing with the minimum tax regime which was akin to parallel tax systems. There should be a single tax system. The concept of minimum tax should also be removed/ abolished. It will further streamline the tax system, reduce the unnecessary tax complexities and the need of refund claims, he added.