LAHORE – LCCI’s Executive Committee, headed by its Chairman Mian Nauman Kabir, called Punjab Governor Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman and briefed him on the issues facing the business community.
Punjab Governor Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman, LCCI Chairman Mian Nauman Kabir, Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan and Vice President Haris Ateeq also highlighted their respective issues.
Punjab Governor Muhammad Baligh-ur-Rehman said the business community is the backbone of the country’s economy and plays a pivotal role in the country’s progress and development. The governor said the business world provides business opportunities for millions of people. He agreed with the LCCI delegation that political stability is important for the economic stability of the country.
The Governor of Punjab pledged his full support to address the issues raised by the LCCI delegation with the relevant officials of the Federal Government and the Government of Punjab. He also expressed his view that economic policy coherence is key to solving current economic problems. LCCI Chairman Mian Nauman Kabir has informed the Governor of Punjab that commercial banks are exploiting the business community by demanding Rs 10-15 on top of the dollar interbank rate for the release of import shipment documents. The State Bank should ensure its full supervision of commercial banks and ensure that banks issue documents at the interbank rate. The LCCI Chairman has requested the Governor of Punjab to raise this issue with the State Bank of Pakistan.
Mian Nauman Kabir said that according to the recently issued circular dated July 5, 2022 from the State Bank of Pakistan, prior approval for the import of machinery (Chapters 84 and 85) would be required from the State Bank of Pakistan. Pakistan and only after this approval. ; banks would release import shipping documents. The process of getting the said approval from the State Bank would take 10-15 days. As a result, members of the business community are expected to face demurrage on shipments. He requested the Governor of Punjab to raise this issue with the State Bank of Pakistan. “There is a need to establish Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in Lahore as the two major industrial estates in Lahore (Sundar and Quaid-e-Azam Industrial Estates) have reached their full capacity and the cost of land for the community of Business in the existing industrial zones has reached exorbitant levels, the LCCI chairman added.
He said that in the federal budget speech, it was announced that a fixed tax scheme for small retailers would be introduced whereby the fixed tax starting at Rs. 3,000 will be collected with electricity bills. However, small retailers have to pay double the amount of electricity bills as non-refundable GST. The FBR did not specify the criteria under which this GST on electricity bills was imposed. The LCCI Chairman has requested the Governor of Punjab to raise this issue with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR).
He said the permanent governor of the State Bank of Pakistan must be appointed immediately to ensure stability in the currency market. Mian Nauman Kabir added that Tier 1 retailers are integrated with FBR through the Point of Sale (POS) system. Policy guidelines for POS integration are unclear. The LCCI President proposed that a clear policy be designed for POS integration without causing harassment to the business community. For the purpose of Tier 1 retailers, the area specification condition can be removed, single-store retailers be exempted from POS integration, and electricity unit consumption can be used as a parameter instead the cost of electricity. He said the federal finance minister should visit LCCI to interact with the business community regarding current economic issues.
LCCI delegation meets Governor of Punjab
The Chairman of LCCI said that the WASA water tariff for Lahore i.e. Rs.100,000 per cusec per month is considerably higher than that of other Punjab cities like Faisalabad where the water tariff is approximately Rs. 19,320 per cusec per month for general industry and Rs. 13,000 for the textile processing industry. This difference in water tariff has a negative impact on the export competitiveness of Lahore-based industries. Lahore’s industries consume water at a depth of 200 feet, which is essentially non-potable and only suitable for industrial use. The LCCI Chairman requested the Governor of Punjab to raise the matter with the relevant officials of the Punjab government to reduce the water tariff for Lahore. The LCCI Chairman briefed the Governor of Punjab on the long standing problem of the high conversion fee rate (20% of DC value) for land use charged by LDA for existing units.
This is an obstacle to the industrialization of the province and should be abolished. He asked the Governor of Punjab to play a role in solving this problem.
LCCI Chairman has informed the Governor of Punjab that the imposition of Punjab Infrastructure Development Cess (PIDC) at the rate of 0.9% on the dry ports of Punjab has prompted many companies based in Lahore and other parts of Punjab to clear their shipments from Karachi. The collection of this Cess was merely Rs. 5 billion in 2021-22. He further informed that this Cess has resulted in huge loss of business volume in Punjab dry ports, displacement of tax revenue from Punjab dry ports to Karachi and hampered the business of customs clearance agents and customs companies. transportation that provide important jobs. LCCI requests the abolition of this Cess to relax the business community and revive economic activities at Port Sec. He asked the Governor of Punjab to play a role in solving this problem.
He said he advocated that LCCI be given fair representation on district administration committees and all provincial government councils related to industry and business.
LCCI Senior Vice President Mian Rehman Aziz Chan stressed the urgent need to install hydrants in and around major markets in Lahore to deal effectively with unwanted fires. He asked for the support of the Governor of Punjab in this matter.
LCCI Vice President Haris Ateeq says the policy of closing outlets, including bakeries, at 9 p.m., which is only implemented in Punjab, has proven counterproductive and should be reviewed immediately. This did not lead to energy savings and instead hurt business sales, resulting in lost tax revenue for the government.
LCCI board members said shortage of parking spaces is a long-standing problem in Lahore. There is an urgent need to establish parking spaces in major commercial markets, especially Hall Road and Badami Bagh, etc. Tahir Manzoor Chaudhry, Abdul Wadood Alvi, Malik Riaz Iqbal, Mubasher Naseer Butt, Mian Maqbool Siddique, Saleem Asghar Bhatti, Muhammad Ali Afzal, Mian Jabbar Khalid, Rizwan Haider, Muhammad Riaz ul Hassan, Tariq Mehboob, Muhammad Yousaf Shah, Chaudhry Wajid Ali , Malik Muhammad Nadeem and Muhammad Usman were present at the meeting.