PUNJAB CONTEMPLATES PROVINCIAL BOARD OF REVENUE

KANWAL SALEEM
June 15 - 21, 2009

The Punjab government is contemplating to establish Provincial Board of Revenue on the lines of Federal Board of Revenue to simplify and sort out taxation related issues being faced by the business community.

The Punjab Minister for Finance Tanvir Ashraf Kaira said this while speaking at a pre-budget seminar held at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI). The LCCI President Mian Muzaffar Ali, Senior Vice President Tahir Javaid Malik, former President Mohammad Ali Mian, former Provincial Minister Shahzad Azam Khan, Principal Hailey College of Commerce and Investment Dr Khawaja Amjad Saeed and Agriculture expert Ibrahim Mughal also spoke on the occasion.

Tanvir Ashraf Kaira said that the proposed Provincial Board of Revenue would help bring efficiency in the working of government departments on the one hand while it would be weeding out the menace of corruption on the other as now a number of government department are dealing with taxation issues.

He said the Punjab Budget for 2009-10 would particularly be focusing on the issues of poverty and unemployment as a set of recommendations in this regard have already been forwarded to the Punjab government. He said that the Punjab government has also decided not to build any new road in the province rather it would be allocating funds for the improvement of existing infrastructure and roads network and it is a policy shift at the level of Punjab.

He said that in a bid to enhance agricultural yield in the province, Punjab Agriculture Research Board had been linked to research institutions in China under a Joint Venture programme.

The Punjab Minister said that the discretionary powers were being curtailed to ensure merit-based recruitment in all the government departments. He said that all measures were being taken to strengthen institutional framework in the province. He said that the coalition governments both at the Federal and at Provincial levels were striving to give a vision to the nation through budget for the betterment of common person.

The LCCI President Mian Muzaffar Ali in his speech stressed the need for sincerity of purpose and 100 percent honesty to achieve the desired results. He said that strengthening of institutions was prerequisite to put economy back on rails. He said that never ever in the past due attention was given towards this particular area and the time was fast running out the keep the house in order.

Speaking on the occasion, the former Provincial Minister Shahzad Azam Khan appealed to the Punjab government to exempt sale/purchase of industrial property from any sort of tax for a period of three years in the wake of global recession.

Dr Kawaja Amjad Saeed urged political synergy to get economic prosperity. He said both the federal and the provincial governments should evolve a common economic programme for the betterment of masses. He called for optimal utilization of resources by integrating research and teaching as the proper utilization of resources would not only be giving boost to exports but would also be helpful in handling the issue of prices of daily use item.

Agriculture expert Ibrahim Mughal urged the Punjab Government to facilitate the agri sector for it has the potential to revolutionize the economy of the country.

WITHDRAWAL OF SUBSIDIES OPPOSED

Senior Vice-President of Pakistan Muslim League (N) Women's Wing Punjab Shaista Pervez Malik has urged upon the PM Advisor on Finance Shaukat Tareen to elucidate that how much subsidy is being given on petrol, gas, and electricity and also describe the solution of tribulations that would take place after removal of subsidies.

Shaista Pervez Malik said that while obeying the instructions of International Financial Institutions, government has posed to abolish the subsidies without considering its destructive effects on industrial sector and common person. She said that after elimination of subsidies, electricity price would go up approximately Rs.3 per unit while prices of petrol and gas would also rise. She said industrial input cost would further mount, as petrol, gas, and electricity are the basic inputs of industry. She said Pakistani merchandise are already suffering hard to compete in the international market and if government takes negative step, Pakistani merchandise would be nowhere in the international market. She said present regime has undermined the country by accepting all conditions of International Financial Institution at the time of borrowing. She said government has made many times undue rise in the prices of electricity and gas. She said electricity prices are already on peak but despite conferring any relief to the masses, government has planned to put more fuel on fire. She said removal of subsidies would reduce the buying power of peoples and poverty would enhance further.

She said federal government is forming its all policies without consultation of stakeholders while business community is complaining that government has kept the main stakeholder out from the federal budget making process. She said formation of useful policies without the consultation of stakeholders is beyond the imagination but government did not bother to think about it. 'If the government does not change its attitude, country would have to face irreparable loss,' she added. She urged upon the government to avoid negative steps like removal of subsidies on petrol, gas, and electricity.

SCOPE EXISTS FOR COOPERATION BETWEEN PAKISTAN AND CHINA IN VARIOUS SECTORS

Punjab Chief Minister Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif has said that there is a wide scope of cooperation between Pakistan and China in various sectors and the economic future of Pakistan depends upon close trade and industrial relations with China. During a briefing meeting regarding Punjab-China Bureau set up for cooperation between Punjab and China in different sectors, Shahbaz said that the rapid progress made by China has given it a high status in the comity of nations. He stressed the need of taking China as a role model and working with commitment and dedication for expeditious development of the country. He issued instructions for converting Punjab-China Bureau to Pak-China Company for cooperation between Punjab and China in different sectors as well as encouragement of Chinese investors.

Zafar-ud-Din Mehmood gave a detailed briefing regarding aims and objectives of the establishment of Punjab China Bureau and the prospects of cooperation between Punjab and China in different sectors.

The Punjab Chief Minister said that foreign investment was of vital importance for rapid development of the province as well as improvement of economic condition of the masses. Therefore, Punjab government is extending all out encouragement to foreign investors. He said that we should fully benefit from the experience and expertise of China for the improvement of different sectors as well as optimum utilization of natural resources.

He said that China was making progress in every sector due to the commitment and determination of its people, but unfortunately despite a lapse of 62 years we had not been able to put the country on the road to progress in the real sense and delay in the execution of development projects had become a common practice. He said that the element of delay in the implementation of development projects would have to be eliminated in the interest of development of the country as well as provision of better facilities to the masses. He said that there was a need for setting up a separate department comprising experts in different fields who could do away with the traditional bureaucratic delaying tactics and provide all out facilities as well as guidance to foreign entrepreneurs for investment in different sectors.

He also issued instructions for setting up a special committee to be headed by Chief Secretary Punjab. He also directed that Punjab-China Bureau should be converted into Pak- China Company for cooperation between Punjab and China in different sectors. He said that steps are being taken for giving a practical shape to the agreements of cooperation signed during his visit to China.

CHINESE DELEGATION DUE IN PUNJAB SOON FOR COOPERATION IN LIVESTOCK SECTOR

Provincial Secretaries informed the meeting about the details regarding implementation of the agreements reached between Punjab and China in different sectors. They informed that a nine-member Chinese delegation would soon visit Punjab for cooperation in livestock sector while negotiations were underway with Chinese companies for cooperation in solid waste management and irrigation sectors.