LAHORE: The investment scenario in the province is improving fast as a large number of foreign investors have recently signed agreements with the provincial government for putting money in many new ventures.
Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) President Malik Tahir Javaid said on Sunday that it was not the foreign investment alone that was surging, but the local businessmen were also showing great confidence in the policies of the provincial government.
He said that Punjab was the most industrialised province as it produced textiles, sports goods, heavy machinery, electrical appliances, surgical instruments, cement, vehicles, auto parts, IT, metals, sugar mill plants, cement plants, agriculture machinery, bicycles and rickshaws, floor coverings, and processed foods.
The province had more than 68,000 industrial units, which included 39,033 small and cottage industrial units, 14,820 textile units, 6,778 ginning industries and 7,355 units for processing of agricultural raw materials, including food and feed industries, he added.
He maintained, "Today, the energy situation in Punjab is not as bad as in yesteryears and we are quite optimistic that in coming years power outages will become a story of the past as work on many new power generation projects is underway."
The LCCI president also expressed satisfaction over the governance level in the province as compared with other provinces, as an effective monitoring mechanism had been put in place by the chief minister.
Speaking about the issues being faced by the trade and industry, he said that taxation issues were impacting the competitiveness of Pakistani merchandise both in local and foreign markets. He urged elimination of withholding tax on banking transaction, regulatory duty on 43 items, and also urged the government to withdraw sections 38 and 40-B, misuse of discretionary powers by the FBR staff and bank account attachment as these hurdles were not only keeping new taxpayers away from the tax net but also discouraging the existing taxpayers.
Javaid also stressed the need for exploring new markets to jack-up export volume. The due focus should also be given to non-traditional items for which Pakistan had sufficient expertise and potential as well, he said.
Malik Tahir Javaid was of the view that if Pakistani businessmen could cope with Chinese products so there was nothing to worry about India. "We must be very strong internally because one's weaknesses expose him to many threats. Bad law and order situation not only hurts local investments but also keeps the foreign investors away. In my opinion, it always turns a country into a trading place instead of a manufacturing hub," he pointed out.
About sit-in and protests by opposition political parties, the LCCI president said that Pakistan's economy could not afford such activities hampering businesses, trade and industrial growth.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2018.