KCCI demands to declare Karachi as ‘Industrial Capital of Pakistan’

Member National Assembly and Chairman Finance & Revenue Committee Faiz Ullah Kamoka, who led a delegation comprising members of Finance & Revenue Committee during its visit to KCCI, informed that the Prime Minister has agreed to form a Taskforce which will be assigned the task to act as mediator between all the departments and the business community of Karachi so that the problems being faced could be promptly resolved.

“I have submitted TORs for the proposed taskforce whose chairman and members will be regularly holding meetings with Chamber, Associations and trade bodies of Karachi so that all their issues pertaining to FBR, SSGC, KE and others could be quickly resolved.”, he informed, adding that this Taskforce will also be holding meetings with other Chambers and trade bodies all over the country as well so that an enabling and business friendly environment could be created across-the-board.

The Finance Committee delegation comprised of MNAs including Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh, Aftab Siddique, Fahim Khan, Qazi Junaid Warraich and Chaudhry Khalid Jawed. Chairman Businessmen Group Zubair Motiwala, Vice Chairmen BMG Anjum Nisar and Jawed Bilwani, General Secretary BMG AQ Khalil, President KCCI Muhammad Idrees, Senior Vice President Abdul Rehman Naqi, Vice President Qazi Zahid Hussain and KCCI Managing Committee were also present at the meeting.

In response to concerns expressed over dilapidated infrastructure and other issues being faced by the business community of Karachi, Faiz Ullah Kamoka stated that out of the box solutions were required for dealing with Karachi’s issues so that this city and also the country could be saved from further plunging into more crises. “Prime Minister always takes keen interest and gives highest priority to resolve issues being faced by Karachi and its business community”, he stated while assuring to arrange a meeting with Prime Minister and also the Federal Minister for Energy Hammad Azhar as early as possible so that the gas crises being suffered by the industrialists of Karachi could be discussed and resolved.

He further advised the Karachi Chamber to submit its recommendations for Federal Budget to Finance Committee at the earliest as January, February and March were the months when budget recommendations were being assessed by the Finance Committee and forwarded for inclusion in the Finance Bill. “We can also arrange an exclusive meeting between Finance Minister, KCCI and FBR so that you could get an opportunity to highlight all your suggestions for the next budget”, he added.

Speaking on the occasion, MNA Aftab Siddique said that they will try to hold a workshop before the budget in which all the departments, Finance Committee Members and KCCI representatives will be invited so that the Chamber’s suggestions could be extensively discussed and taken into consideration for incorporation in the Federal Budget.

He said that the government was serious towards resolving the issues being faced by Karachi as in addition to routine allocations, additional grants were also being given for improving the infrastructure of Karachi. “Work on K-IV project was going on in full swing which will be completed by October 2023 whereas the funding for Karachi Circular Railway project has also been arranged which would help in easing the traffic jam problem”, he added.

Chairman BMG Zubair Motiwala, in his remarks, pointed out that the industries in all industrial zones of Karachi have been suffering badly due to low gas pressure or unavailability of gas since last 68 consecutive days and they have constantly been raising this serious issue at all available platforms and issuing appeals in the media as well but unfortunately, no response has been received so far from people at the helm of the affairs.

Referring to FBR’s claim of collecting Rs180 billion more than assigned target, he said that this was not true because of the fact that the rupee has devalued against dollar by 18 percent and the entire revenue claimed by the FBR was being collected at custom stage hence, the increase in revenue was only due to devaluation of rupee. “If the devaluation is properly assessed by taking devaluation of rupee into consideration, it will clearly indicate that FBR’s revenue has actually descended by 6 percent”, he added.

He also criticized the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) which now requires from exporters to bring proceeds back to the country within 120 days instead of 180 days and this decision has been imposed retrospectively but it was totally unworkable. “It was highly unfair to take such decisions affecting the exports without taking the stakeholders on board. Is State Bank following the agenda to reduce the export?”, he asked.

Commenting on Supplementary Finance Bill, he said that this Bill has been completely devised under IMF dictates without taking the ground realities into consideration. 17 percent tax imposed on Formula Milk, 17 percent increase in prices of mobile phones exceeding $200 along with the decision to raise sales tax on raw materials from 5 to 10 percent were not making any sense. “Raw Materials were usually being imported for manufacturing exportable products after value-addition. We fear that raising sales tax on raw materials would encourage people to import finished goods that would eventually result in closure of many industrial units and prove counterproductive to all the efforts being made by the government to promote industrialization and exports”, he added.    

He also pointed out that Export Processing Zones (EPZs) which were treated as a foreign entity or a different country and the currency used at EPZs was not Pakistani currency hence it was unjustifiable to impose Sales Tax on EPZs. This tax on EPZs has to be withdrawn.

He said that FBR has once again been allowed to freeze the bank accounts without serving any show cause notices which happens nowhere around the world as it was purely against the international laws pertaining to privacy and code of conduct.

President KCCI Muhammad Idrees, while welcoming the Finance Committee Members, expressed deep concerns over the discriminatory treatment being suffered by Karachi city which receives a meager amount of Rs26 billion for the municipality services, of which majority of the portion was being utilized on payment of salaries. “Many cities around in our neighboring countries including Dhaka, Bangalore, Mumbai, Kolkata and New Delhi receive huge municipal funds which were at least three to four times higher or even more as compared to what was being given to the largest city of Pakistan which contributes more than 68 percent revenue to the national exchequer”, he added.

He said that due to lack of attention by both the federal and provincial governments, the standard of living in Karachi has deteriorated sharply, intensifying the hardships not only for the business community but also for the poor masses.

Despite so many odds particularly the dilapidated infrastructure of Karachi, the business and industrial community of Karachi remains resilient and tries its best to grow their businesses which can be gauged from the fact that the country’s exports grew by 54 percent of which 26 percent growth was contributed by the Karachi-based exporters.

Keeping in view the unmatched contribution made by Karachi, Muhammad Idrees demanded from the federal government to officially declare Karachi as the Industrial Capital of Pakistan.

Underscoring the need to give Karachi city its due share, he opined that when an ailing Karachi can contribute 68 percent revenue and more than 52 percent in terms of exports, what will be the contribution when Karachi is made healthier and stronger. “The government has to realize that making Karachi stronger by resolving its issues including gas, electricity and water crises along with availability of adequate infrastructure, was the only way to deal with the ongoing crises being faced by the entire country.”

He urged the members of Finance Committee members to highlight the issues of Karachi at every platform as a national cause so that the city gets due attention.

CAPTION:

Chairman Businessmen Group Muhammad Zubair Motiwala and President Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry Muhammad Idrees presenting crest to Member National Assembly and Chairman Finance & Revenue Committee Faiz Ullah Kamoka, who led a delegation comprising members of Finance & Revenue Committee during its visit to KCCI. MNAs Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh, Aftab Siddique, Fahim Khan, Qazi Junaid Warraich and Chaudhry Khalid Jawed, Vice Chairmen BMG Anjum Nisar and Jawed Bilwani, General Secretary BMG AQ Khalil, Senior Vice President Abdul Rehman Naqi, Vice President Qazi Zahid Hussain and KCCI Managing Committee are also seen in the picture.

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