LAHORE - The Provincial Finance Minister Tanvir Ashraf Kaira has said that the Punjab budget for the year 2010-11 will be tax-free, pro-poor and pro-industry. The Provincial Minister was speaking at a pre-budget seminar here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday. LCCI President Zafar Iqbal Chaudhry in his welcome address took up a number of issues including VAT and shortage of energy. Former LCCI Presidents Tariq Hameed, Mohammad Ali Mian and Mian Muzaffar Ali also spoke on the occasion. The Minster said that all efforts were being made to turn the upcoming budget document welfare-oriented in real terms and for the purpose it was trying to accommodate all the proposals of the business community. The minister said that the government was focusing on enhancing tax base, curtailing corruption and implementing good governance instead of imposing any new tax in the coming budget. He said that the Punjab would be getting Rs 70 billion extra from the NFC Award that would be utilised in a transparent manner for the well-being of masses and up-gradation of infrastructure in the province. Over the issue of Value Added Tax (VAT), the Minister said that all the stakeholders should be taken on board before its implementation. He, however, stressed the need for increase in tax-to-GDP ratio and sought the help of the business community for the purpose. He said that under the austerity drive, the provincial government has saved Rs 15 billion while purchase of new vehicles had been curtailed by 30 per cent that would help ensure availability of more resources at the disposal of the government. Admitting that the shortage of energy is the biggest issue of the day, the Finance Minister said that Pakistan might not have been facing the prevailing power shortage if the agreements of 15,000 MW had not been scrapped in 1993. He said that 30 per cent loadshedding would curtail in coming months. On grain storage, he said that the government has planned to increase its storage capacity and is encouraging the private sector to invest in the important area. While expressing dissatisfaction over TEVTA, the Minister urged the private sector to play its role for preparation of industry-specific curricula so that the shortage of skilled labour could be bridged. Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI President Zafar Iqbal Chaudhry announced that the private sector would be ready to bear all the expenses if Punjab government succeeds in developing a consensus on Kalabagh Dam. He said that agreement on NFC Award after long 19 years and passage of 18th Amendment were enough to make the point that the present government could win a consensus on Kalabagh Dam. The LCCI President said that the government should announce some relief package for the crisis-hit industrial sector. He also urged the provincial Minister to concentrate on Livestock and dairy sectors that have a huge potential. He said that the industrial sector in Punjab is contributing 26pc to Punjabs economy. There are approximately 427,784 manufacturing units in the country out of which 70pc are located in Punjab. The sector has a lot of potential, which needs to be realised with proper focus on provision of appropriate infrastructure, facilitating business environment for investors and creation/ strengthening of linkages between industry and educational training institutions. The LCCI President said that the young workforce is the biggest potential asset of Punjab province. However, its true worth can only be realised with imparting of modern skills aimed at improving their productivity. Therefore, there is a need of pursuing a policy of developing institutions for imparting modern demand driven technical and vocational training to the youth.