LAHORE - The Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry has sought budget proposals from its members.

LCCI President Ijaz A. Mumtaz said that LCCI members, Conveners, Co-Conveners of the LCCI Standing Committees and Lahore based trade & industrial associations should prepare and submit properly worked-out proposals to the LCCI as the Federal Board of Revenue had already started the budget making exercise.

LCCI President also stressed upon the leading businessmen specifically to share their issues with the LCCI so that competent authorities may be convinced to provide required relief.

The LCCI President said that the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry always forwards budget proposals of its members to the Federal and Provincial governments with an objective to create an enabling business atmosphere in the country and it was a good omen that most of the proposals forwarded by the LCCI are incorporated in the Federal Budget.

Ijaz A. Mumtaz said that the government would have to rationalize taxes and duties to check smuggling and enable the business community to cope with multiple internal and external challenges. He said that the menace of smuggling has spread its tentacles and needs to be curbed with iron hand. He said that smuggling was not only damaging the local industry but also causing huge loss to the national exchequer. He said that a cut in duties and taxes would also be doing a great help to the government in its efforts for expansion of tax net.

LCCI President hoped that the government would allocate special funds for the construction of water reservoirs in the country as the acute shortage of electricity and its highest ever tariff has virtually pushed the economy to the wall. He said that the economic situation is so depressing that industrialization process has come to a grinding halt due to unprecedented energy crisis and no local investor is ready to put his money in any new venture what to talk of foreign investment. He said that government should create consensus on Kalabagh dam that is inevitable for the progress and prosperity of the country as it will produce power at an average cost of Rs1.5/kwh.

This cheap power will annually displace costly power worth approximately Rs300 billion with consequential savings of costly oil imports. This saving alone would wipe out the current account deficit, boost reserves and strengthen the rupee.

He said that the government would have to focus on hydel means of power generation as Pakistani goods were fast becoming uncompetitive due to costly thermal electricity.

Ijaz A. Mumtaz suggested that the government should curtail to zero duty on the import of solar panels related equipment so that the people could utilize alternate energy resource that would also help overcome ongoing energy crisis. He said that government would have to increase allocations for the health and education sectors as well.