Pakistan's future tied to

improved tax compliance

ISLAMABAD (NNI): Patron Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders Shahid Rasheed Butt on Sunday said future of the country is tied to broadening of tax base which is impossible without cooperation of the business community.  The business community is determined to improve tax-to-GDP ratio to make Pakistan a respectable and self-sustaining nation but highhandedness of FBR disturbs our momentum, he said.  Speaking to the business community, he said that tax officials should meet with the businessmen to get first-hand knowledge and reaction which will help us improve performance of FBR.  Tax authorities should seriously vetting budget proposals to facilitate business community and expand the tax base, the veteran business leader said.

Shahid Rasheed Butt said that employing latest technology altered to the local needs will facilitate taxpayers and discourage misuse of authority by field staff.

FBR should not lay too much emphasis on collection but also care about economic direction of the country and play its role in development of society.

There is no justification in taxing business community to grant over Rs450 billion subsidies to influential, he said.

Removal of Iran sanctions to

reduce Pakistan energy crisis

ISLAMABAD (INP): Chairman of the United International Group Mian Shahid on Sunday said gas import from Tehran is becoming a reality twenty years after Pakistan and Iran signed pipeline deal. The project has important political and economic dimensions for the two neighbouring countries but US has remained the biggest obstacle forcing Pakistan to get gas from Turkmenistan, he added.  Talking to the founder president of IWCCI Samina Fazil, he said that plan to import gas from central Asia will not see the light of the day for in the next decade due to situation in Afghanistan while lifting Iran sanctions will reduce energy crisis in Pakistan substantially.

He said that the pipeline project, if materialised, could be extended to India and China providing extra income to Pakistan under transit head while Iran could also provide LNG at economical rates.

The development will add to Iran's influence in Pakistan and revive its sick energy sector hit by decades of sanctions.

Mian Shahid said that economic and political repercussions of the pipeline are widely debated as it will cover the gas shortfall in Pakistan which Iran will find new markets to the east to expand and diversifying energy export revenues.

Iran has already raised its oil prices by 9 percent and set an output target of 5.7 MMBOPD of crude oil by 2018 which indicates its confidence while India is jacking up its LNG imports from 20 million tonnes to 25 million tonnes in three years for which a floating terminal has been planned in Mumbai costing $470 million.

At the occasion, Samina Fazil lauded the role of Pakistan of not taking sides in the Yemen conflict which has been lauded by some friendly countries.

She said that Pakistan should contact foreign investors and allocate funds for the project in the upcoming budget as there is high probability of removal of sanctions next month.

US stocks gain despite low

consumer spending

NEW YORK (AFP): Wall Street took a benign view of surprisingly poor consumer spending trends this week, bidding stocks higher despite downcast government and corporate reports on the retail sector. The S&P 500 closed the week at record levels, adding 6.63 points (0.31pc) at 2,122.73. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 81.45 (0.45pc) to 18,272.56, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 44.74 (0.89pc) to 5,048.29. Even with the gains, analysts said market sentiment remained subdued. The S&P 500 is only a hair above the 2,080-2,120 range it has held for most of the last three months. "We're range-bound, we just happen to be ending the week on the higher end of that range," said Art Hogan.

, chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities.

"Clearly if this new higher range were to be a breakout we'd see a follow-through, and there really hasn't been any follow-through."

Hogan said US stocks received some support from a pullback in US Treasury yields and a retreat in the dollar, which traded against the euro Friday at the lowest level in more than three months.

The week's most scrutinized data point, April retail sales, came in at $436.8 billion in April, essentially unchanged from March.

Also disheartening was Friday's news that the University of Michigan's US consumer sentiment index plummeted to 88.6 in May, down from 95.9 in April.

On the corporate side, there were one or two positive blips, such as results from upscale burger chain Shake Shack, which posted a 56.3 percent gain in first-quarter sales to $37.8 million.

But department chain giant Macy's reported results that missed market expectations, as it cited a number of factors, including the West Coast port slowdown, severe winter weather and the impact of the dollar.

Macy's said foreign visitors to stores in New York, Las Vegas and other American cities spent less due to the strong US currency.

Retailer Kohl's missed analyst forecasts on sales, while J.C. Penney reported a $167 million loss in the first quarter. Gap said comparable sales in April 2015 tumbled 12 percent compared with last year.

- Seasonal slowdown? -

Hogan said the consumer weakness was especially disappointing in light of the drop in gasoline prices that was expected to boost consumption. But he said it was too soon to know whether the slowdown in spending was seasonal or the sign of an important consumer shift toward building up savings.

"We're creating more jobs and consumers ares saving more at the pump," he said. "But we haven't seen a clear path of those new savings and salaries coming into the marketplace."

Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare said the government's flat retail sales report for April "won't leave the Fed feeling confident about raising the fed funds rate in June."

In other corporate news, DuPont shareholders gave chief executive Ellen Kullman a big win, turning back an activist campaign from billionaire Nelson Peltz's Trian Fund Management following a hard-fought proxy contest. Some analysts thought the outcome could embolden more companies to take a tougher line towards activists.

The week's most high-profile merger was Verizon's $4.4 billion takeover of Internet pioneer AOL in an effort to boost the telecom giant's presence in online media and advertising.

In other deals, Noble Energy bought Rosetta Resources for $2.1 billion and industrial company Danaher acquired walter-filtration company Pall for $13.8 billion.

Next week's calendar includes earnings from retail behemoths Wal-Mart Stores and Home Depot, as well as US housing starts and existing-home sales data for April. The Federal Reserve will also release minutes from its April monetary policy meeting.

Denmark experts to upgrade seed processing plants of PSC       

LAHORE (APP): Seed processing plants of Punjab Seed Corporation will be upgraded for better processing of wheat, rice, cotton, potato, maize and other seeds. The processing plants were purchased in 1983 from Denmark, official sources told APP here on Sunday. They said present condition of the processing plants was good yet they were above three decades old technology and need to be upgraded to meet the requirements of modern days. They said a delegation of Denish experts had held a meeting with the managing director Punjab Seed Corporation in this regard recently. The chief minister Punjab has already issued instructions for up-gradation of seed processing plants.

Up-gradation of these plants was necessary to improve their working capacity and increasing per acre yield through the seed processed by these plants, they said.

The step was in line with farmers friendly policies of the government    and to increase agriculture produce in the province, they added.  

Railway passengers, employees to have insurance cover

ISLAMABAD (APP):  Pakistan Railways has taken the initiative to provide insurance cover to its employees and passengers for the first time. In this regard, an agreement has already been signed between Pakistan Railways (PR) and the Postal Life Insurance (PLI), an official of the Ministry of Railways told APP. "Initially, there is a compensation of Rs 800,000 in case of death of a passenger, Rs 50,000 to Rs 300,000 in case of an injury or disability," he added. He said that under the agreement it will not only cover railway passengers holding a valid ticket but also railway employees either on duty or travelling on any train anywhere in the country. The insurance claim will be settled within 21 days while payment will be made in 45 days, he said.

The agreement will remain in force for three years and could be extended for another two years, he said, adding that a life insurance plan for all railways employees was being worked out.

It may be mentioned that Pakistan Railways is the largest federal government department, functioning under the administrative control of the Ministry of Railways.

Total number of passengers traveling on railways is over 60 million per annum.