JK business delegation visit

to Pakistan likely in May

MUZAFFARABAD (NNI): A business delegation, first from Jammu and Kashmir, is likely to visit Pakistan in May as the government of India has cleared decks for its visit. Local media in Held Kashmir Sunday reported that the Central government has cleared decks for the visit of the business delegation from Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan and it has conveyed its decision to the stakeholders in the state.  “Now it is likely that the visit will take place in May as Pakistan has already conveyed its willingness to allow JK business leaders,” sources said. They said, Union Home Secretary, L C Goyal during a meeting with constituent members of JKJCCI in Srinagar on Monday stated that business leaders from this side can travel to Pakistan during May.

Youth to get loans to become

self-sufficient

ISLAMABAD (APP): National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) has received 59,794 applications for Prime Minister Youth Business Loans Scheme out of which 15,311 loans have been approved. According to an official source, an amount of Rs 3.914 billion has been disbursed, while 13,982 loans are under process. While the First Women Bank Limited (FWBL) has received 459 applications out of which 155 loans have been approved through which an amount of Rs 118.430 million has been disbursed and 95 loans are under process. The loans ranging from Rs 100,000 to Rs 2,000,000 are provided to the youth under this scheme. Mark-up at the rate of 8pc is paid by the beneficiary while the remaining cost is to be borne by the government.

The government will also bear 5pc of the portfolio losses of the participating banks.

`To ensure recovery, banks’ charters provide that the loan must be guaranteed. Accordingly, there is a provision of one guarantor.

New unit in the offing to track tax evaders

ISLAMABAD (Online): The federal government is mulling over setting up a new unit to track tax-evaders. Sources said that the government was looking into a proposal to set up the Directorate of General Economic Intelligence Unit to cast its net wide on tax evaders, who has so far not been brought under the tax net. The sources said that the unit, once set up, would directly report to the Chairman Federal Board of Revenue about its day-to-day operations across the country. According to the proposal, a grade 21 scale officer will head the unit, which will have offices in all the Federating units, to look into the matters related to tax collection.

The provincial offices will have directors, assistant directors, inspectors, researchers, computer assistants and technical staff to compile data on tax collection and evasion.

The new intelligence unit will have offices in every major cities at a later stage.

Probe demanded into allegations of irregularities in FPCCI

ISLAMABAD (Online): Patron Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders Shahid Rasheed Butt on Sunday demanded an independent inquiry into the allegations of wrongdoings leveled by the Businessmen Panel against the United Business Group (UBG). “The leadership of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) has been ignoring merit which is resulting in complaints and distortion of its image,” he said. A group of businessmen has taken over the FPCCI to serve vested interests which was resulting in piling up of complaints against its, he said adding that a change in the apex chamber after decades has not improved anything.

Butt said that sending un-elected people, staff of the chambers and friends on foreign tours in the garb of importers was now being debated openly adding that collective interests have been compromised over personal gains.

“Those involved in scams like embezzlement of millions in the construction of FPCCI Islamabad building enjoy full confidence of the UBG leaders which is amazing,” he said.

Many top officials and ambassadors have been ignoring invitations from FPCCI because they were pushed for contracts, visas and other benefits.

He said that traders and industrialists will continue to establish their own associations for protection of their rights if FPCCI kept on operating like a gang.

Govt should give priority to agri sector in budget

LAHORE (INP): FPCCI Chairman Standing Committee on Horticulture and Agriculture Produce Ahmad Jawad has said despite immense potential, the agricultural sector of Pakistan lacks efficiency and global competitiveness and added that loss of efficiency is denting the country’s self-sufficiency in production of various farm goods. Talking on Sunday about proposals in the budget for agriculture & horticulture sector, a mainstay of Pakistan’s economy, he claimed that production of various farm products has been very low if compared with the global benchmark. He noted that Pakistan, once dubbed a ‘great bread basket’, is now struggling due to these factors, and has increasingly been becoming an importer of a large number of agri-commodities.

At the same time, Pakistan’s agricultural sector also faces larger post-harvest losses of 40pc, when compared with the global benchmark, he said and added that this double blow low output and high losses, diminishes the income of growers further.

Jawad demanded of the government to formulate horticulture export policy on the pattern of textile policy in consultation with all stakeholders. Moreover, government should allocate funds for promoting hybrid seed industry in Pakistan under private-public partnership (PPP), he added.

Unfolding details of the FPCCI’s Standing Committee’s recommendations to the federal finance ministry for incorporating them in the 2015-16 budget, he told that these include setting up of different projects under private-public partnerships including cool chain infrastructure for the horticulture sector, food processing and value addition industry, agro-processing industry and accredited testing laboratories at horticulture production hubs to ensure availability of good quality produce for exports.

He said that government should also identify new export markets and sign protocols and agreements to remove bottlenecks for enhancing exports, besides a loan scheme for rural youths for promoting agriculture services should be introduced.

He also demanded that funds should be allocated for Crop Insurance Scheme (CIS) for farmers of the areas affected by natural disasters/ calamities, wide-spread diseases and unpredictable weather conditions. He also urged the government to allow duty-free import of European refurbished agriculture machinery.