LAHORE  - The All Pakistan Business Forum, while calling for a downward revision of General Sales Tax to 12 per cent and bringing all untaxed sectors into the tax net, proposed the budget makers to broaden tax net by bringing agriculture income in tax net, as the sector contributes about 22 per cent to the GDP but its tax share is almost zero. On the other hand the industrial sector contributes up to 65 per cent to the revenue though its share in the GDP is 26 per cent.

The federal budget 2013-14 should prioritize energy sector and enforcement of law and order, as Pakistan’s economic revival depends on availability of cheaper and nonstop power, and gas supply.

This was the crux of the APBF Budget proposals for the year 2013-14, finalized after getting feedback from various sectors. Almost all the sectors called for immediate measures to bridge electricity demand-supply gap.

Enhancing share of direct taxes in revenue and lowering the slab of indirect taxes, besides lowering of tariffs on smuggling-prone items would help achieve key economic targets set for the next fiscal year,” said APBF Chairman Syed Nabeel Hashmi.

Addressing the meeting of executive committee, the business leader urged the government to make the new budget according to the proposal prepared by the real stakeholders, including the APBF.

The newly elected government will confidently present a business-friendly budget, and the revival of the economy will gain pace, he said and added that all segments of the community, including businesses, small and big traders, industrialists and the people, were happy and hopeful than an era of reconstruction of the Pakistani economy will begin soon that will lead to prosperity.

Syed Nabeel Hashmi said that austerity should be the theme of the budget document and for the purpose the government would have to cut off the unnecessary expenditures as excessive government borrowing was not only resulting in higher interest rates but also restricting availability of cheaper liquidity for the private sector.

He urged the government to broaden the tax net by bringing the agriculture and services sectors into the tax net. Public Sector Enterprises (PSEs) like PIA, Railways and Pakistan Steel Mills should be managed professionally or be privatized to avoid the huge loss to the national exchequer.

Rising risk perception about investing into Pakistan has been hitting hard the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) that fell sharply and needed to be tackled through a comprehensive policy approach by involving private business bodies and individuals. We need to start a comprehensive international marketing program for image building of Pakistan.

The APBF meeting was attended by noted industrialists including Mr Shah Faisal Afridi President FATA APBF, Mr Yaqoob Izhar CEC APBF, Mr Ahmed Shahzad, Mr Mudasser Masood, Mr Ahmed Fahim President KPK APBF, Mr Imtiaz Ahmed Metro Group amongst others.