Kashmir is lifeline of Pakistan and business community is standing side-by-side with govt and armed forces: Anwar
M Jahangir Hayat
LAHORE: Instant industrialisation is a must to improve and strengthen the economy of country. Smuggling is a big impediment in the way of local businesses and industry growth. Local investors must have to be protected and provided with the level-playing field. They must be provided with the ease-of-doing business (EDB) facility where they should not be held accountable for petty matters and business-friendly policies must be made at the government level.
In fact the government needs to check and control its expenditures and unwarranted spending. Misuse of the tax money on the extravagance of the government functionaries instead of the people’s health, education and development works cannot help enhance tax-net.Policies are made and imposed right away. The stakeholders are seldom consulted in making the policies. Policies should be made with due consultation from all the stakeholders.Kashmir is lifeline of Pakistan and the business community is standing side-by-side with the government and the armed forces and will never be afraid of offering any sacrifice for the Kashmir cause and that trade with India should never be resumed at the cost of Kashmir.
These views were expressed by Friends of Economic & Business Reforms (FEBR) President Kashif Anwar who belongs to a very noble and top businessmen’s family of Lahore. He had been the vice-president of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and has a deep insight into the trade and economic affairs of the country.
Kashif Anwar believes that instant industrialisation is a must to strengthen the economy of country. Presently countrywide layoffs have left millions jobless and the trend is alarming which may create law and order situation if the issue of rising unemployment is not properly addressed.
On the economic front, we need to take prompt decision without any delay like the one we took against when the Indian Air Force (IAF) infiltrated inside the Pakistani territory and shot down two Indian jets inside Pakistan
“On the economic front, we need to take prompt decision without any delay like the one we took against when the Indian Air Force (IAF) infiltrated inside the Pakistani territory and shot down two Indian jets inside Pakistan,” he stated, adding such decisions are need of the hour on the economic front.
“Once we will be economically strong all the other issues, including Kashmir will be solved immediately, Anwar said, explaining we should establish good relations with our neighbours to promote trade and Industry in the region, he said.
So far as the Kashmir issue is concerned, Kashmir is lifeline of Pakistan and the business community is standing with the government and the armed forces and will never be afraid of offering any sacrifice for the Kashmir cause and that trade with India should never be resumed at the cost of Kashmir, Anwar stated, adding instead we should explore new avenues for trade and industry as we have whole of the world as an alternate option.
Talking about prolonged curfew and massacre of the innocent Kashmiris in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK), he demanded that the India must immediately lift the inhuman curfew and allow the Kashmiris to use their right to self- determination according to the United Nations resolutions.
Deliberating upon the revenue collection and the undisciplined spending of the government, he spoke at length that the businessmen have always been ready to pay their due taxes, if not, from where over Rs 4,000 billion revenue was collected during the last financial year, he questioned.
“In fact the government needs to check its expenditures and unwarranted spending,” he suggested.
In a reply to a question about Pakistani taxation system, he said that businessmen and every citizen pay taxes, thereby enabling the government to run its business. However, very few of them file their tax return which needs attention, he clarified.
But when government is paid taxes it must also facilitate the taxpayers but unfortunately, it never happened in our case.
“Even the taxpayers are not given due respect. Those who have been the tax payers are further squeezed because the government has failed to extend the tax- net for the lack of awareness among the masses,” he said, adding that those who are in the tax-net are audited, imposed fines for delay in the filing of returns and the tax payers are also called tax-evaders.
In such conditions increasing tax-net is like a hard nut to crack as the people prefer to be the non-taxpayers by seeing the hardships of taxpayers.
Taxpayers should be respected and extended benefits and incentives for paying their tax convincing the lot who is out of the tax-net to come in the net.
“It is very simple to enhance the tax. You facilitate and glorify the existing tax payers and get the tax-net enhanced and the non taxpayers will certainly be like becoming tax payers seeing the good treatment of the tax authorities with the existing taxpayers, ” he stated, explaining that if you threaten the existing taxpayers with penalties, fines, blacklisting and such other tactics, no one will be ready to be a filer.
The tax payers should be treated respectfully like a client of the department besides there is a dire need to ensure the good use of the tax money of the taxpayers, he suggested, explaining if you misuse the tax money on the extravagance of the government functionaries instead of the people’s health, education and development works, enhancing tax-net will become a distant dream.
Taking about the discretionary powers of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) officers, he said that the discretionary powers should be abolished forever as this is something that proves instrumental in promoting corrupt practices.
“When you give unlimited powers to the government officials, it is natural they will misuse,” he said, explaining, it does not mean all the officers are corrupt but there are black-sheep in every department.
“In order to counter the issue of corruption, the discretionary powers of the FBR officers should have to be done away with or the taxpayers should also be extended such powers to defend themselves,” he underscored.
Answering a question about the doing business in the country under the rules of the present and previous governments, he said that currently the business has come to a stand-still position due to a number of reasons, including rupee devaluation, hike in gas, power and petrol prices that ignited inflation.
“Exports have declined further as customs duties have been imposed even on the raw-material which played havoc with the existing business for which not only the present and previous governments are responsible equally. Worse is that refunds are also not been released which is a working capital of business and industry. Billions of rupees are stuck with government creating an acute shortage of the capital money. If the businessmen are paid their due refunds, economic conditions of the country can improve which directly connected with the trade and industry’s well-being.
He also talked about the amnesty schemes augmenting that this is the right time to introduce amnesty schemes as the government has automated its systems to a great extent besides the taxpayers are also educated and comparatively well-aware of the system now.
Answering the question as to how the economy can be put on the right track, he replied that the local investors and business should be facilitated. “Industrialisation is must for the economy as it would also generate employments avoiding law and order situation”.
To yet another question, he supposed that smuggling is one big impediment in the way of local businesses and industry growth.
“Unreasonable hike in raw-material customs duties is another hurdle in the way of local industry growth and development”.
The duties, additional duties and interest rate need to be rationalised, he said, adding that the stakeholders are seldom consulted while policies are made. Policies are made and imposed right away.
Policies should be made after due consultation with all the stakeholders. Such measures can be handy in improving the economic health of the country, he expressed.
Answering a query about how can industrial growth and development be improved, he replied that local investors must have to be protected and provided a level-playing field.
They must be provided with the ease-of-doing-business facility where they must not be held accountable for noting, business friendly-policies must be made at the government level, investors must not be pretending from investing in the country. Trade and Industry-friendly atmosphere must be created, enabling all and sundry to fearlessly operate, he said, adding that if the trade and Industry flourish, employment opportunities will be created lessening the chances of criminal activities, improving the law and order situation.
To a question about the documentation of economy, he relied that the documentation is a must but do motivate the masses in a way that they must not be snubbed.
“The government functionaries always neglect consulting the stakeholders and they are informed once the policies are finalised, he noted, saying that polices should be formed with due consultation of the stakeholder for having good results, policies should not be imposed. Speaking further, Anwar said, that it is next to possible for the businessmen to continue their businesses in the conditions where all departments of the government are busy in threatening and harassing the industrialists and traders.
Smuggling is venom for the industry and industrial growth in any country and no country can flourish till the menace is nipped in the bud. Local industry has come to a grinding halt due to the abundance of influx of the smuggled goods and articles. The Customs authorities have failed to control the smuggling despite tall claims. How can foreign investment come in the country when the locals are facing hardships?
To a question about the worst-ever trade and Industry conditions in the country, he said that although economic activities are at their historical lowest ebb, we must stop thinking negative, hope for the best and let the government takes its time to streamline things.
President, Friends of Economic & Business Reforms (FEBR) Kashif Anwar belongs to a very noble and top businessmen’s family of Lahore. He had been the vice
– president of Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He has a rich profile to his credit:
1-President, Friends of Economic & Business Reforms (FEBR) (which is aimed at developing understanding of the stakeholders in connection with the government policies especially about the SROs, budgets removing impediments in understanding the tax matters.
2-President, Founder Friends Club (FFC).
3- LCCI Economic Reforms Convener Standing Committee on 2017, 2018 and 2019.
4- FPCCI Sales Tax and Inland Revenue Regional Office Lahore Regional Standing Committee Chairman 2017, 2018, 2019.
5- FPCCI Pakistan-Iran Business Council Director 2018.
6- FPCCI Pakistan Portugal Business Council Director 2015 and 2016
7-Vice President, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry 2013-14.
8-Convener Standing Committee on “Anti Fake, Anti-Adulteration and Anti- Smuggling” LCCI 2012-13.
9-LCCI Traffic Police Liaison Convener Standing Committee 2012-13.
10- LCCI Finance, Taxation and Sales Tax Co-Convener Standing Committee 2012.