LAHORE   -   The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Friday welcomed assurances by Prime Minister Imran Khan and Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa to the business community for resolution of their issues and removal of impediments to the economic growth.

In a statement, LCCI President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, Senior Vice President Ali Hussam Asghar and Vice President Mian Zahid Jawaid Ahmad said that the pledge of the prime minister and COAS to solve the problems of businessmen was a good sign.

They said that economic growth could be paced up by removing reservations of business community regarding taxation system, expediting refunds payments, ending discretionary powers of officials and decreasing utility prices.

The LCCI office bearers said that the Federal Board of Revenue is supposed to be a facilitator to the private sector. “But our experience shows that dealing with FBR is not always easy. Tax system is complicated and burdensome which creates room for complicities between the tax payers and collectors,” they said.

They proposed reducing the number of taxes and frequency of their payment. “All para tariffs must be merged into the main tariffs and made payable quarterly instead of every month,” they said.

“Similarly, there should be electronic communication between taxpayers and tax departments. These measures can make significant difference and win the confidence of taxpayers”, they said. The business leaders also suggested the government to take steps to control smuggling at the borders by equipping the Frontier Core deployed there with state of the art technology and making them more vigilant. The duties on goods prone to smuggling should be reduced as it has helped many countries curb smuggling. They also called for reduction in duties and taxes on raw materials.

The LCCI representatives said that all export-oriented sectors, including halal food sector, should be given zero rated facility as the country has a little share in the international halal trade of about 3 trillion dollars.

They said that both Bhasha and Kalabagh dams were essential for the national economy as energy was very expensive due to lack of hydel power generation. This results in tariff hikes and makes the industry uncompetitive in the international market. They said that opponents of Kalabagh dam were actually safeguarding the interests of anti-Pakistan elements therefore they should not be given any weight.

The business and trade leaders said that despite being an agrarian country Pakistan was importing fruits, vegetables and other agri products on a large scale. This particular sector should be focused and issues hampering its growth should be resolved at the earliest, they concluded.