LAHORE - Logjam in economic progress and serious economic challenges have made the role of Ministry of Finance most important. State Minister for Finance Rana Afzal Khan will have to put in his best efforts to put economy back on the rails and to tackle the economic threats like unimpressive exports, rising imports, huge trade deficit, rupee devaluation and mammoth debts.

While congratulating Rana Afzal Khan for his elevation as state minister for finance, LCCI President Malik Tahir Javaid called for immediate measures to improve the economic signals and socio-economic structure of the country.

“We don’t want to be critics, we want economic progress and prosperity of the country and for this purpose, just right directions are needed to be set in consultation with the stakeholders”, he said. While giving some proposals to the MoF, LCCI President Malik Tahir Javaid said that consultation in policy making will bring economy out of mire therefore stakeholders must be taken on board on economic matters. He said that private sector should be facilitated and plan should be evolved to improve declining exports.

Malik Tahir Javaid said that over next two decades, over 28 million new jobs will be required. This target can easily be achieved by promoting power, mining, manufacturing, transportation and service industries. He said that in agriculture the focus should be on value addition chain that is expected to become more attractive for new jobs based in processed and semi processed agro-based industries such as juices, ready to use meet, dairy and poultry items.

He said that only direct taxes should be levied and indirect taxation should be removed.

He said that income of agricultural produce that falls in the taxable income range must be taxed. By this we mean that people with land occupancy of more than ten hectare should be taxed, if the land has been cropped.

He said that new dams can play an instrumental role in fast economic growth as these would ensure cheap environment friendly electricity besides ensuring water for agriculture sector throughout the year. For the construction of new dams, he proposed the constitution of National Water Council (NWC).

He said that even after construction of Bhasha Dam we will only be able to add 1MAF water storage capacity the rest 5 MAF will only be recovery of the capacity lost due to sedimentation. He said that after Bhasha we must construct Kalabagh and rename it as Pakistan Dam, and that Punjab must withdraw from any royalty claims for Pakistan Dam and finally Punjab must volunteer accommodate to all those who are affected by the dam construction.

The LCCI president said that amongst the alternate sources of energy biomass shows tremendous potential. The total capacity in biomass is 22800 MW in Pakistan and little technical training is required to make use of this resource. Alternate Energy Board must concentrate on it to establish these units in villages. He said that coal, hydropower and biomass will produce energy at a flat rate of less than Rs. 5 per unit for next twenty years, helping manufacturing industry to grow unabated with no taxation on inputs and availability of technically better quality workforce. Increased yield in cotton will support local textile industry to take leadership role in the market. He advised to the state to withdraw all profiteering and taxation from energy sector. Any new projects with public-private partnership should ensure that they work on no-profit-no-loss basis.