KARACHI -  Advisor to the Prime Minister on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs, Dr Miftah Ismail, appreciating the move of ABAD for constructing low-cost housing for lower strata of the society, Saturday said that Fixed Tax Regime (FTR) for the construction sector was a good move and the present government will provide all possible facilities to this sector because the government wants to create new avenues of jobs for the people.

He also said that the government will announce a Tax Amnesty Scheme very soon to bring investments from abroad into Pakistan as the top priority of the government is to promote the national economy and raise the growth of the gross domestic product (GDP).

He was addressing a meeting of Association of Builders and Developers of Pakistan (ABAD) at ABAD house on Saturday. Chairman ABAD Arif Yousuf Jeewa, Patron-in-Chief Mohsin Sheikhani, well-known businessman Arif Habib, Senior Vice Chairman ABAD Fayyaz Ilyas, Vice Chairman Sohail Warind, Chairman Southern Region Altaf Tai, former SVC Muhammad Hassan Bakshi and large number of builders were also present on this occasion.

Dr Miftah Ismail said that increase in revenue is not his sole aim but he wants to promote the national economy and provide more jobs to the people. He said that the government wants to widen the tax net and reduce taxes. He said that the government wants to increase GDP growth to up to 9 percent but for poverty alleviation GDP should be increased up to 10 percent against present target of 6 percent of GDP. He was also hopeful of achieving current fiscal year’s revenue target of Rs. 4000 billion.

He announced a board for construction of low-cost housing for people from lower strata of the society across the country and appointed patron-in-chief ABAD Mohsin Sheikhani as the member of the board. He said that the Fixed Tax Regime for builders and developers was a good scheme and he invited leaders of ABAD to Islamabad for further discussion on this regime.

He said that the government will announce a Tax Amnesty Scheme to bring back money from foreign countries to give a chance to business community. Elaborating the proposed scheme, he said that the government will offer tax relief to them who will bring back foreign exchange and those who will announce their properties abroad. He said that the amount behind any unknown plot also will be brought into the tax net.

He invited members of ABAD to work in CPEC Economic Zones and assured that local builders and developers will be given equal relief as provided to Chinese entrepreneurs.

Addressing the meeting, Mohsin Sheikhani said that Pakistan is facing shortage of 12 million housing units and if the cost of a housing unit is considered Rs. 2 million, this industry could fetch USD 218. He demanded to establish a board for low cost housing, which not only will promote the national economy but provide jobs to 15 million people. He said that with the progress of construction sector, more than 70 allied industries will also grow. He said that builders and developers will not ask the government to provide land for low cost housing schemes neither will ask for any relief.

Chairman ABAD Arif Yousuf Jeewa said that it is very strange that whenever the government imposes regulatory duty (RD), local industries start increasing rates of their products, adding that for example the steel industry has increased prices of steel bars after imposition of RD. He said that the CPEC will bring progress into the country but local builders and developers should be given proper share in CPEC. He lamented that tax relief given to Chinese investors for import of machineries will badly affect local investors and they will not be able to compete with Chinese investors.

He said that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) is harassing builders and developers and no positive change is being brought to taxation system and any positive recommendations from our side are thrown into dustbin. He said that the low cost housing schemes announced by ABAD will have far-reaching impacts on national economy and the government should support this scheme.