Staff Reporter – September 14, 2019
KARACHI: President Dr. Arif Alvi has said that the country’s economy was going through historic difficulties and the present government inherited current account deficit, budget deficit and circular debts. A huge chunk of revenue was being consumed to clear the debts, leaving limited resources for development work however, the current account deficit has been narrowing due to fall in imports and rise in the exports.
While exchanging views with General Secretary Businessmen Group (BMG) & Former President KCCI AQ Khalil and Acting President KCCI Khurram Shahzad during a meeting held at Aiwan-e-Saddar in Islamabad, Dr. Alvi said that the remittances have been appreciating while the foreign reserves of the country were also improving. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other international donor agencies were closely monitoring all the initiatives and activities being made by the present government and also the strategies devised by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) which have resulted in improving the number of taxpayers. “It is being anticipated that the number of registered persons for Sales Tax will also rise in the days to come”, he said, adding that as improvement in revenue generation has been witnessed during the last two months, they expect that the FBR and Ministry of Finance will not to go for any mini budget or additional taxes to reduce deficit.
He said that the business community has been playing a commendable role in the progress and prosperity of Pakistan, which we highly appreciate and hope that the business & industrial community will continue to strive hard with same zeal and enthusiasm to promote the positive image and the massive investment opportunities available in Pakistan which would surely help in attracting maximum foreign investment in the country.
He also assured to urge the government to accommodate representatives of the business community in the policy making process in the larger interest of the country. “It is the business community which not only contributes to the economic development but also plays a major role in the progress and development of other sectors particularly the health and education sectors. We hope that they will play similar role for the progress and prosperity of other sectors as well”, he added.
Speaking on the occasion, General Secretary BMG AQ Khalil extensively discussed the overall economic scenario and brought the serious issues being faced Karachi city including the Local Government issues, garbage disposal problems and poor infrastructure of the city, besides discussing Rs162 billion package announced by the Federal government for Karachi. “Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) is also not providing gas at adequate pressure to industries which was terribly affecting the production capacity of many industrial units”, he said while requesting the President to take up this matter with SSGC’s management and also pleaded for a high level meeting with K-Electric so that a proper code of conduct for the utility service provider could be finalized in consultation with all stakeholders which would surely resolve many of the electricity related issues being suffered by Karachiites every day.
He said that it was good omen that the number of filer has increased as the government encouraged the masses to file their returns anytime without giving any specific deadline for filing their returns. “Other such issues must also be dealt with a similar approach while the government will have to thoroughly elaborate its policies and at the same time, they will also have to resolve the grievances in order to make numerous policies successful”, he added.
Referring to the targets set in the budget for current fiscal year, AQ Khalil pointed out that it was a matter of grave concern that the government was steadily missing numerous targets set to deal with deficits. The primary deficit was to be brought down from 1.8 percent of GDP to 0.6 percent of GDP in the current fiscal year but, instead of declining, this deficit has gone all the way up to 3.6 percent. “It means that the government will have to carry out massive adjustments of Rs1,300 billion to reduce primary deficit to 0.6 percent of GDP which we fear will be done through another mini budget or additional taxes to meet the IMF conditions but the business community is neither mentally nor practically prepared as the industrial wheels have lost the pace and we still have a lot of reservations”, he added.
General Secretary BMG further advised the government to expedite the pace of reforms introduced at the FBR and the authority to devise numerous taxation policies must be completely taken away from the FBR and they should only be authorized to receive and recover taxes.
He noted that the Foreign Direct Investment has reached its lowest level during the last four years that requires special attention of the government while pressure must be exerted on Board of Investment and other relevant institutions to devise effective strategies so that local as well as foreign investment could be promoted.