LAHORE  -  The focus of the Punjab Growth Strategy 2023 is on regional equalization and human capital development. The Planning and Development Board (P&D) and the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) have worked closely in the past and have also collaborated in the formation of Punjab Growth Strategy 2023. Gap between public and private sector needs to be bridged for the growth of the province.

These views were expressed by the Chairman P&D Hamed Yaqoob Sheikh during a meeting at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. President LCCI Mian Tariq Misbah and Vice President Tahir Manzoor Chaudhry were also present on the occasion.

The chairman P&D said that Government of Punjab has recently established commercial courts for speedy resolution of commercial disputes, adding that in Punjab Revenue Authority, the interface between the taxmen and the payee is minimized through better use of technology.

He said a high-tech testing lab is being established for industry which will help enormously in exports and will help in reducing cost of doing business. He said the government is focusing a lot on human capital development. To reduce the cost of land, a new simpler lease policy is being introduced, he added.

He said the government wants to encourage the development of IT Parks. There is no institution to solve the issues of the service sector which is 60 percent of Punjab economy.

President LCCI Mian Tariq Misbah said that LCCI appreciates the important initiative of the Planning and Development Board of reviewing the Punjab Growth Strategy 2023 in consultation with stakeholders. 

He said this step is very important as Punjab contributes around 54% to the national economy and houses 53% population of the country. There is a need to review government policies for making them more efficient to facilitate businesses so that they can play an imperative role in the revival of our economy in the post Covid era, he added. 

He said for enhancing the growth rate of the province and improving the business and investment environment, LCCI gives few recommendations for inclusion in the Punjab Growth Strategy 2023. He said according to the Annual Budget Statement of the Government of Punjab, there are more than 100 provincial taxes. To create ease for the business community, there is a considerable need to reduce the number of provincial taxes by clubbing most of them. 

Secondly, he said SMEs in Punjab are not able to contribute much in the exports. One of the prime reasons of this is that SMEs only get 6.4% of private sector credit. As a result, the SMEs, particularly in the engineering sector are unable to enhance their technological competitiveness and increase their exports. This issue needs special attention in the Punjab Growth Strategy, adding that there is a need for up-gradation of existing Testing Laboratories to bring them at par with international standards for serving the export needs of industries like pharmaceuticals, halal food, leather and rice etc. The growth strategy should lay a proper roadmap in this regard.

He said it’s a high time that a provincial strategy for enhancing exports should be formulated.

 Punjab can play a leading role in enhancing halal meat exports as this province is bestowed with abundant livestock. The provincial resources need to be diverted towards the development of state-of-the-art slaughter houses according to international standards and modernization of post-harvest storage, he said, adding that there is also a considerable potential for enhancing exports in the potential sectors like pharmaceuticals, fruits & vegetables and information technology etc.

The Punjab Growth Strategy should lay down a roadmap for improving the provision of infrastructure in the province for establishing industrial clusters, increasing the number of Common Facility Centres and establishing combined effluent treatment plants in the existing/new industrial estates as it is a pressing issue of industry these days. 

He said the government of Punjab should establish industry-led Sector Skills Councils to help solicit input in design and management of skill development programs. This will ensure that skill development programs are employer driven.