Mar 20 - 26, 2006

All Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CCIs) of the Punjab province have decided to forward joint budget proposals to the government from the forum of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry so that the authorities concerned and department could be able to workout their solution in right manner.

The decision was made at meeting of the Presidents of all chambers of commerce and industry here at LCCI on Friday. The meeting, which was jointly chaired by LCCI President Mian Shafqat Ali and Provincial Secretary Investment Saeed Alvi, was also attended by LCCI Senior Vice President Abdul Basit, Vice President Aftab Ahmad Vohra, former Presidents Mian Anjum Nisar, Mian Misbahur Rehman, former Senior Vice President Sohail Lashari, former Vice President Sheikh Mohammad Arshad, Presidents Sheikhupura, Sahiwal Faisalabad, Multan, Bahawalpur, Sargodha and Rawalpindi Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

All the chambers were one voice that in the changed global scenario, the government should bring the prices of utilities down and curtail number of taxes so that the Pakistani products could get a right place the global market.

Representatives of all the chambers also handed over their proposals based on general comments about taxation and other issues and proposals specifically dealing with their local problems. These suggestions would be incorporated in proposals formulated by the LCCI to prepare a comprehensive set of suggestions, to provide an insight to the CBR and government in problems being faced by the business community and to look for redress in the budget for next fiscal.

It was also suggested during the meeting that Chambers of Commerce and Industry serve business community and play the role of bridge between the private sector and the government therefore the government should consider to exempt them from levy of income tax as such a facility has already been granted to the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry which is an apex body of all the chambers.

It was decided that a combined website of all Chambers would be developed with single web address to address members inquiries relating to sales tax, income tax, customs and issues relating to global and regional agreements. This website also will address frequently asked questions to educate the members.

All the Chambers urged the government that it should not allow low quality products import from India. Minimum quality standards must be assigned for import goods and the equipment used for research and development purpose should be exempted from import duty.

Government should devise the much-needed Science & Technology Policy for achieving high national growth. It is necessary that business school and industries should have interaction, to facilitate and guide the graduates to understand market demand for employees LCCI will provide platform to industrialists and business school to have interaction.

The industry is facing tough competition from smuggled products, which are affecting our economy. Restricted products are entering in Pakistan via Dubai or Saudi Arabia, government should check smuggling.

The issue of high mark up rates also came under discussion with a demand that the government should take care of this matter in order to facilitate industrial sector.

It was also suggested that the Government must take all Chambers of Commerce in confidence especially Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry in privatization process.

As regards foreign investment in Pakistan, the government should launch a strong media campaign to showcase the conducive environment of Pakistan for foreign investment.

To take up the challenges of WTO the stakeholders should identify the non-tariff barriers because non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) are being used by different countries to protect their local industry and may continue to do so in future. All Chambers of Commerce must hold joint seminars to identify these barriers. In this regard sanitary and phytosanitary measures must be taken into consideration without which it would be almost impossible for Pakistan to export our agro-based products etc.

Meanwhile, the Minister of State For Information and Broadcasting Anisa Zeb Tahirkheli has said that the government wants a close collaboration with all the chambers of the country to keep the wheel of the economy moving with desired speed.

The Minister took up various issues with the LCCI office-bearers including SAFTA impact on economy, trade deficit, alternate energy resources and Power generation.

The country like ours, the chambers have an important role to play keeping in view of WTO and SAFTA. To a point raised by the LCCI office-bearers about high cost of utilities, the minister said that the announcement of construction of dams by the President General Pervez Musharraf is actually in a step in that direction and after the construction of new dams the prices of utilities would automatically come down. The government was concentrating on alternate energy resources, though the one-time cost is very high but later on, the country would be able to get cheaper energy.