RAWALPINDI/ISLAMABAD - The business community of twin cities has expressed mixed reaction over the budget 2020-21 here on Friday.

The businessmen and traders of Rawal­pindi termed the budget 2020-21 as be­low the expectations of public whereas the traders of Islamabad said the govern­ment presented a balance budget.

Saboor Malik, President, Rawalpin­di Chamber of Commerce and Indus­try (RCCI), while responding to the budget, said that the budget falls be­low the expectations for the business community. However, they welcomed that no new tax has been imposed. The revenue target in the budget has been set to Rs 4963 billion. It is impractical and does not reflect the ground reali­ties. They demand that the government must review its revenue targets.

The condition of CNIC which was earlier Rs 50,000 is now proposed to be extended to one hundred thousand rupees. This was our longstanding de­mand and also the agenda point of RCCI 12th All Pakistan Chambers Pres­idents Conference 2020. He said that the chamber had proposed to reduce the sales tax from 17 to 5 percent. We were disappointed that it was not ac­cepted. It is proposed to enable alter­native dispute resolution, ADRC. This was a longstanding demand of the Chamber which has been met.

At the same time, Rs 650 billion have been earmarked for PSDP, which is less than the expectations and it should be increased. Last year, Rs 675 billion were allocated. He said the chamber had proposed to abolish the tax for POS point of sales, but the rate has been re­duced from 14 per cent to 12 per cent.

The scheme announced for the con­struction sector, which was due to ex­pire in December 2020, was demanded by the chamber to be extended. It has been extended to June 2021. This is welcome decision. The demand to up­date and fully digitize the FBR system was also met.

The rate of advance tax on raw ma­terials has been reduced to 2%. The chamber had demanded at the 12th All Pakistan Chamber Presidents Confer­ence that the rate should be reduced from 5.5 per cent to 3 per cent. Tax re­funds have been issued to address the shortage of capital. This is also a good move, he remarked.

On the other hand, Muhammad Ahmed Waheed, President Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) said that the government has pre­sented a balanced budget in the current difficult situation and hoped that this budget would help in promoting busi­ness activities. He said that the govern­ment has reduced the customs duty on 40 raw materials of various industries and reduced the customs duty on 90 tar­iff lines from 11% to 3% or zero% which is very encouraging. The government has also reduced regulatory duties on a number of industrial inputs that would hopefully reduce the production cost. He said this while giving his initial reaction on the Federal Budget 2020-21.

Ahmed Waheed said that the gov­ernment has increased the minimum threshold of supplies by retailers for obtaining CNIC of the buyers from Rs.50,000 to Rs.100,000 which is a pos­itive move. He said that the government has also reduced the federal excise duty on cement from Rs.2 per kg to Rs.1.75 per kg which will reduce the price of ce­ment and boost construction activities. He said that the government has pro­posed some amendments to simplify the withholding tax system which will hopefully benefit the business commu­nity. He said that the most welcome step was that despite the difficult financial situation, the government has not im­posed any new tax in the budget.

The ICCI President said that Pakistan was in dire need of boosting exports at the moment to revive the troubled economy and, therefore, demanded that the government should announce better incentives for exports and infor­mation technology sectors in order to increase exports and boost investment.

He said that in view of the current difficult situation, the government has presented a better budget and hoped that the government would include further suggestions of the business community to create a more conducive business environment in the country.

Tahir Abbasi, Senior Vice President of Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mian Shaukat Masood, Naeem Siddiqui, Mian Arif, Muhammad Ilyas, Muhammad Aslam Khokhar, Umar Fa­rooq, Khalid Chaudhry and others were also present on the occasion.