Rawalpindi - The Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) President Malik Shahid Saleem said that business community had high hopes and expectations about upcoming economic package to be presented at National Assembly on January 23.

“We are anticipating big relief in taxes, regulatory duties and low tariff for small and medium enterprises”, he said.

Addressing a press conference at Chamber House here on Monday, RCCI President Malik Shahid Saleem urged the government to take immediate steps and end uncertainty towards IMF programme. There should be a clear picture for local and foreign investors about economic direction as where government is heading and how much time it will take to remove the anomalies and bottlenecks to put the economic engine on the track, he added.

He said that we do appreciate that the government is considering withdrawing the ban imposed on the non-taxpayers on purchasing vehicles and properties; however, there must be more taxes for non-filers over filers.

Malik Shahid Saleem said that business community appreciated withdrawing withholding tax on cash withdrawal from bank accounts for tax filers.

He said that on ease of doing business index, Pakistan ranked 136. He urged the government to take concrete and result-oriented steps on medium- and long-term basis to improve the ranking below 100 marks in next 3 to 5 years.

While answering to a question, the RCCI president said that government must increase the tax network and add new sectors and departments rather squeezing the existing tax payers. It is unfortunate that we have just 1.5 million registered filers out of 200 million populations. The Active Tax Payer list (ATL) must be updated on weekly basis for late filers too, he suggested.

It is appreciated that Prime Minister Imran Khan is vocal on creating wealth and dividends, however; the business community desired to have a favourable environment for cash flows and competitiveness.

On another question, Malik Shahid Saleem said that business community believed that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) initiative will serve as a game changer for Pakistani economy with respect to connectivity and Industrial growth, however; he urged the government to expedite process and working on CPEC special economic zones and take key stakeholders on board.

All export refund claims must be cleared by March 31 and equal opportunities and facilities must be provided to all other sectors including pharmaceuticals, marble, gems and poultry industries, he said.