ISLAMABAD: The government must ensure tax relief and reduce the cost of doing business in the federal budget for fiscal year 2020-21 to save small and medium-sized businesses and industries from total collapse.
These views were expressed by experts at an online seminar titled “Pre-budget public-private dialogue amidst the impact of Covid-19”, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Wednesday.
Pakistan Business Council Resident Director Saud Bangash said the zero-rated facility must be reintroduced for exporters in addition to lowering the general sales tax in the present circumstances. He said the minimum turnover tax was also regressive and would hurt smaller businesses more. Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI)’s former senior vice president Ibrahim Kasumbi said the low oil price benefit should be passed on to end-consumers in the form of reduction in electricity tariffs.
He said all irritants in the tax regime, which led to expansion of the informal sector and the cash economy, should be addressed.
SDPI Executive Director Abid Qaiyum Suleri told seminar participants that Rs1.5 trillion worth of Covid-19-related support for the business and industry was on the cards and would be formally made part of the budget for the next fiscal year. “The situation unfolding in the wake of the pandemic signifies the importance of promoting agriculture and ensuring food security,” Suleri said, adding that timely support to farmers could play a key role in ensuring that there were no food shortages and food inflation in the future. Sindh Revenue Board official Mona Mehfooz acknowledged the importance of promoting online enterprises when social distancing had become necessary due to the pandemic.
She said exploring the potential of Export Processing Zones and bringing more efficiency to such zones could help the private sector in boosting the economy.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2020.
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