LAHORE              -          The Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry has given a mixed reaction on the federal budget 2020-21 and called for extraordinary steps to overcome extraordinary challenges in post COVID arena.

Addressing a press conference soon after the budget speech, LCCI President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said that government did well by presenting a tax free budget but some relief measures, demanded by the business community, have been ignored.

Flanked by Senior Vice President Ali Hussam Asghar, Vice President Mian Zahid Jawaid Ahmad, former office-bearers and executive committee members, he said that the LCCI was demanding a cut in markup rate. It should be 4 to 5 percent to bring down the input cost of the industrial sector. Sheikh said that no special package has been announced to boost exports and to remove the hurdles that hampering the growth of exports sector. He said that loss-making public sector enterprises are causing huge loss to the national exchequer but no policy has been given on these PSEs.

“No policy has been announced to reduce the energy cost that is one of the biggest reasons of high input cost”, he said and added that demands of interest free loans to SMEs, further improvement in refunds system, removal or cut in withholding tax, end to advance tax at import stage and help in certification for SMEs have been remained unaccepted in the federal budget.

Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said that the LCCI was expecting withdrawal of discretionary powers and special policies for Halal Food and Information Technology sectors. He welcomed allocation of funds for power & water projects and agriculture sector.

He said that exemption of additional custom duties on those tariff lines which are now @ 0% customs duty in tariff, reduction of custom duty on 40 raw materials of various industries, tariff rationalization under National Tariff Policy 2019, by reducing customs duty on 90 tariff lines from 11% to 3% and 0%, allowing the exemption on import of raw material to those Nashiran-e-Quran also who do not have their own in-house printing facility, reduction in regulatory duty from 12.5% and 17.5% to 6% and 11%, respectively on Hot Rolled Coils (HRC) of Iron and steel falling under PCT codes 7208 and 7225& 7226, respectively are good measures. He said that exemption of custom duties on import of raw materials by manufacturers of Butyl Acetate, exemption of custom duty on import of raw material by manufacturer of syringes and saline infusion sets, exemption of customs duties on import of raw material by manufacturers of buttons, reduction in custom duty on import of raw material by manufacturers of interlining/buckram, reduction of custom duty and exemption of additional custom duty and regulatory duty on import of raw materials by manufacturers of wire rod, exemption of custom duties and regulatory duty on import of machinery, equipment and other project related items for setting up of internet cable landing stations, exemption of custom duties on import of raw material by beverage can manufacturers and reduction in custom duty and exemption from additional custom duty on import of raw material by food packaging industry are laudable measures.

Irfan Iqbal Sheikh also welcomed reduction in regulatory duty on smuggling prone items to bring these items under legal imports, regulatory duty on several industrial inputs is also being reduced to decrease their cost of doing business, tariff protection for domestic industry by increasing/levy of regulatory duty on import of those items which are also locally manufactured, incentivizing soap manufacturing industry by reducing rate of additional customs duty on palm stearin and enhancing scope of concessions available to Special Economic Zones.