KARACHI: The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) has asked the government to check the highhandedness of the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) acting against businesses.
The apex trade body also demanded a reduction of sales tax from the current 17 per cent to 13pc in the next fiscal year’s budget to boost business confidence. It also sought zero customs duty and sales tax on the import of plant and machinery to encourage industrialisation.
Unveiling the budget proposals for 2019-20 at a press conference on Wednesday, FPCCI President Daroo Khan Achakzai said NAB and FIA must be asked to work within their defined parameters. He said that the government should create a business-friendly environment to promote industrialisation and job creation.
He said that despite Prime Minister Imran Khan’s claim that FIA and NAB should only go after corrupt politicians, the two institutions were continuously harassing businessmen. “Without a congenial and business-friendly environment, the government cannot attract local or foreign investment,” he remarked.
Other FPCCI leaders were apprehensive of the government’s economic policies saying these have resulted in high inflation and higher cost of doing business.
Achakzai was highly critical about the government’s approach towards handling economic issues and complained that so far no consultation process with stakeholders has been initiated by the government for the preparation of the next federal budget.
He said that successive governments have routinely consulted with the business community before the formulation of the budget. But except for a meeting scheduled by the Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar next week, the government has not taken the FPCCI on board.
He added that the government has also ignored the business community with regard to the ongoing negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and as of today the country is in dark with regard to terms and conditions of the agreement being finalised with the fund by Finance Minister Asad Umar.
The FPCCI president lamented that, contrary to practices in the past, the government has completely ignored FPCCI in the process of appointing or re-constituting boards at public sector entities.
He said the Engineering Development Board is not properly represented as it does not have members from Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa whereas the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Business Council and Economic Advisory Council were formed without FPCCI representation.
He said that the budget advisory committee was set-up under the leadership of former FPCCI president Zubair Tufail has made extensive consultations with member trade bodies for formulating the proposals for the 2019-20 budget.
The leaders expressed their concern over low levels of foreign direct investment and urged the government to immediately take corrective measures by reducing policy rate which rose from 6pc to 10.75pc in twelve months.
Similarly, massive devaluation of the rupee — up to 35pc — in a short period of four months (January- April) has devastated the economy. Above all, the government also failed to achieve the primary objective of currency devaluation the exercise did not result in even 1pc increment in exports.
It was also highlighted that the government’s move to raise petroleum prices has caused cost-push inflation in the country and burdened the masses.
The budget document also proposed that, in order to increase exports to neighbouring countries, warehouses should be set-up close to borders so that exporters can meet the demand.
Mentioning the Phase-II of the Free Trade Agreement scheduled to be signed with China on April 28; FPCCI was of the view that China — which is importing sugar and rice from other countries — should also allow imports from Pakistan as the country has surplus rice and sugar stocks.
Published in Dawn, April 11th, 2019