Lahore - Trade & economic policies based on mutual trust, facilitation and simplification of procedures are needed, not only for trust building between the government and the private sector but also for increase tax-to-GDP ratio, which is at the lowest ebb.

This was crux of the speeches delivered at a seminar on ‘Federal Budget 2016-17: Challenges and Opportunities’, organised by the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) in collaboration with Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Saturday.

LCCI Vice President Nasir Saeed, LCCI Standing Committee on Finance, Taxation and Sales Tax Convener Kamal Mahmood Amjad Mian, Chairman Taxation Sub-Committee, former Chairman PBIT Abdul Basit, a renowned tax lawyer, Dr Ikramul Haq, and former Chairman APTMA Punjab M Akbar Sheikh were the key speakers.

LCCI Vice President Nasir Saeed said that challenges always brought opportunities with them; therefore, mental approach of businessmen should be positive, while the government should adopt a friendly approach and address the concerns of businessmen, who are backbone of the economy and are ready to supplement the government efforts aimed at economic revival of the country.

He also covered Sales Tax, Customs and Income Tax matters in his speech, and opined that all economic policies should be formulated with the view to facilitate growth; should be business friendly and easy on spender pockets. Nasir said that a sizeable portion of every federal budget should be earmarked for the energy generation projects, including hydel and coal.

“It is a reflection of sorry state of affairs existing in the country that the budget deficit lingers on, as outlays for wages and other expenses, including pensions, subsidies, defence and interest payments, have substantially exceeded the federal tax revenues,” the LCCI vice president lamented, and added, “It leaves the government’s current operations to be substantially financed by debt that is another unconstructive factor, which causes such negative forces to take over.”

Former chairman of Punjab Board of Investment & Trader (PBIT) said the LCCI had already proposed to the government to maintain financial discipline for the greater benefit of national economy.

He also recommended imposition of tax on agri-based incomes. He highlighted the need for adding new taxpayers in the tax net rather than further strangling those tax payers, who are already paying taxes on regular basis.

Convener of the LCCI Standing Committee on Finance, Taxation and Sales Tax Kamal Mahmood Amjad Mian said that smuggling and under invoicing were responsible for huge losses to the national exchequer.

He said it was beyond understanding why the policymakers were providing huge space to illegal transactions and maintaining high rate of customs duties.

He said that a study conducted by LCCI had revealed that only imports from China were responsible for the loss of Rs60 billion every year due to mis-declaration and under invoicing.

Mir Omer Zaheer Mir gave a presentation on challenges and opportunities for services and trade sectors of Pakistan, while Dr Ikramul Haq briefed on prospects for the manufacturing sector of Pakistan.

M Akbar Sheikh briefed the audience on the challenges that may surface if the real estate sector was taxed.