LAHORE - The federal budget 2018-19 should bring liberal investment policy. Infrastructure development, broadening tax base and creating jobs through industrialisation should be priority.

This was stated by Ch Irfan Yousaf, regional chairman FPCCI, in a pre-budget session held at Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) regional office here Saturday.

Ch Irfan Yousaf said, “Government is regularly ignoring business community and non-business friendly policies have badly disturbed the growth. FBR officials are repeatedly harassing taxpayers. Our economy is falling, our trade balance is declining due to high tariff and taxes. We have unfortunately lost our textile sector exports and same situation is being noted in each sector. There should be a consistent policy for budgeting which should support programs/schemes in the long run. Different agricultural zones should be introduced. This would enhance agro based industry from respective regions and can lead to increase in foreign reserves. Efforts should be made for trade promotion, industrialisation, balancing trade, increasing exports.”

Irfan said number of research centers and laboratories should be increased while there should be strong linkage between industry and academia. “Research should be focused on industrial growth. Skill development should be focused while developing any education policy,” he added.

He said, “Pakistan’s exports are jeopardising from last 3 to 4 years and fallen from $25 billion to $20 billion first time in the history while our imports had reached $52 billion, increasing trade deficit to $32 billion during 2016-17. Drastic steps should be taken to fight against increasing trade deficit.”

Talking about the cost of doing business and exports finance, he said reimbursement of tax refunds and payment of funds under PM package should be top priority of the government for the promotion of exports. The meeting was attended by various representatives of trade and industry.