Zubair Motiwala’s team meets Finance Minister to discuss the budget FY24

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar has assured the leadership of the Karachi Chamber that the government would do everything in its power to support the business & industrial sector through ease of doing business so that economic growth and stability in the country could be ensured. “The government will put forward a business and people-friendly budget for the fiscal year 2023–24”, he added while exchanging views at a meeting held at FBR Headquarters on Saturday with a delegation of Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI), which Chairman Businessmen Group Zubair Motiwala led.

Minister of State for Finance & Revenue Dr Aisha Ghous Pasha, SAPM on Finance Tariq Bajwa, SAPM on Revenue Tariq Mehmood Pasha, Chairman RRMC Ashfaq Tola, Governor SBP Jameel Ahmed, Chairman FBR Asim Ahmed, and senior officers from Finance Division and FBR were also present at the meeting whereas KCCI’s delegation comprised of Vice Chairmen BMG Anjum Nisar and Jawed Bilwani, President KCCI Mohammed Tariq Yousuf, Senior Vice President Touseef Ahmed, Vice President Haris Agar, Former Senior Vice President Ibrahim Kasumbi, Chairman Federal Taxation Subcommittee Abu Bakar Shamsi, Chairman Customs & Valuation Subcommittee Muhammad Arif and Chairman Banking & Insurance Subcommittee Asim Aejaz.

While praising KCCI’s budgetary suggestions, the Finance Minister underlined the government’s resolve to address the problems faced by the business & industrial community. He said that the country was facing severe crises. Still, the present government cannot be held responsible but appreciated for taking responsibility for fulfilling all the international commitments violated by the previous government. “The government has been trying in the most difficult conditions to meet all the prior obligations to save Pakistan’s credibility. This is why the business community and the common person are overburdened due to exorbitant electricity & gas tariffs and general inflation.

“There’s no quick fix, and it will take time, as we faced such challenges in 1998 and 2013. All of those challenges were efficiently discussed, but it took time. In 2017, everyone was applauding Pakistan’s performance when the economy was performing at its peak with the highest foreign reserves, lowest inflation while the stock markets were the best-performing markets of the region”, he said, adding that Pakistan was going in the right direction but the political instability destroyed everything, plunging Pakistan’s economy from 24th position to 47th position in 2022 which is most painful for all of us.

“The most difficult reforms have been done, and the bleeding is over. Pakistan will survive, and we will collectively face all the challenges to put the country back on the track leading to progress and prosperity”, Ishaq Dar said, adding that it was the government’s top priority that no delay occurs in external payments and the same was promptly being done. “I reassure you that we will come out of economic crises and come up with new ideas and initiatives which the country deserves through agricultural revolution and a special focus on IT.”

He said the government would fully cooperate with the business community by accepting all their reasonable demands. Still, the Wishlist should be limited as the country went through a critical phase.

On occasion, Chairman BMG Zubair Motiwala stated that KCCI knew the government faced fiscal issues. Hence, the Chamber’s recommendations have been compiled not to require budgetary space. “Our recommendations are mostly about efficiently dealing with those hurdles hindering trade and economic growth and paving the way for corruption.” He said that the foreign exchange held by the State Bank exhausts imports of food and essential items, and no funds are available to facilitate the imports of plants, machinery and spare parts etc., which needs to be addressed as it affects industrial production.

Highlighting several problems faced by raw materials and machinery importers, he stressed that a clear-cut policy must be defined for clearance of payments against imported consignments. At the same time, SBP must strictly regulate the banks as it has been observed that banks were arbitrarily clearing import documents as per their wish & whim instead of merit.

He further said that the CNIC number of unregistered buyers provided by registered sellers/suppliers must be treated at par with STRN. “3 per cent Further Tax on supplies to unregistered buyers should not be charged if the Registered Seller provides CNIC number in Sales Tax Return. He added that this issue has been pending for many years and may please be resolved in this year’s budget”, he added.

Zubair Motiwala further stated that the buyers of Pakistani goods were shifting their orders to regional competitors, including India and Bangladesh. “The government has to see that Bangladesh exports have risen by US$5 billion, and ours have gone down with similar numbers, which clearly shows how speedily we are giving away our export share to rivals.”

“The recession in UK and US was unlikely to have any impact on our exports as, being low-end suppliers, we do not fall in that recession bracket, but the core reason for losing exports in these important markets can only be attributed to the high cost of doing business which must be brought down at par with Bangladesh, and I assure you that we are capable enough to export even more than what Bangladesh exports”, said Chairman BMG.

President KCCI Mohammed Tariq Yousuf stressed the need to introduce a tax-friendly environment to encourage a maximum number of individuals to get into the tax net. “In this regard, the government should look into the possibility of setting up a committee or think-tank comprising representatives of the business community as well so that we could collectively work towards ensuring a tax-friendly environment”, he added.

In the end, KCCI delegation members, while thanking the Finance Minister, hoped that a maximum number of KCCI’s proposals for the federal budget would be incorporated in this year’s budget as they have sincerely been submitted in the country’s larger interest.

CAPTION:

Finance Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar presides over a meeting with Karachi Chamber’s delegation, which Chairman Businessmen Group Zubair Motiwala led at FBR Headquarters on Saturday. Minister of State for Finance & Revenue Dr Aisha Ghous Pasha, SAPM on Finance Tariq Bajwa, SAPM on Revenue Tariq Mehmood Pasha, Chairman RRMC Ashfaq Tola, Governor SBP Jameel Ahmed, Chairman FBR Asim Ahmed, Vice Chairmen BMG Anjum Nisar and Jawed Bilwani, President KCCI Mohammed Tariq Yousuf, Senior Vice President Touseef Ahmed, Vice President Haris Agar, Former Senior Vice President Ibrahim Kasumbi, Chairman Federal Taxation Subcommittee Abu Bakar Shamsi, Chairman Customs & Valuation Subcommittee Muhammad Arif and Chairman Banking & Insurance Subcommittee Asim Aejaz are also seen in the picture.

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