Non utilisation of $1b loan irks parliamentary panel

The committee urges FBR to provide concessions to industries to be set up at CPEC’s SEZs


Haseeb Hanif May 26, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

A parliamentary panel has expressed extreme displeasure over delay in the process of completion of socio-economic projects under a $1 billion Chinese grant.

It has also asked the taxman and other stakeholders to provide concessions to industries to be set up at the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to be built along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The Parliamentary Committee on CPEC held its 36th in-camera meeting at the Parliament House on Wednesday. Presided over by MNA Sher Ali Arbab, the meeting expressed dissatisfaction over dilly-dallying in the process of completion of socio-economic projects under Chinese grant of $1 billion.

The committee recommended to the provinces to effectively and timely utilize the $1 billion Chinese grant by undertaking those socio-economic projects which could bring value addition and sustainable impacts for improving the lives of common people.

It also observed that lack of implementation of axle load policy also was causing huge damage to the road infrastructure and burdening the exchequer. The committee decided to take up the issue at the highest forum so as to ensure the implementation of the policy and law in letter and spirit.

The planning ministry additional secretary, the Board of Investment secretary; the commerce ministry secretary; the Federal Board of Revenue member inland revenue and the Ministry of Commerce senior joint secretary briefed the panel about waiver of taxes to other industries and the axle load policy.

The committee, highlighting the importance of CPEC second phase, observed that utmost efforts are made to expeditiously complete the first phase of CPEC.

It said Pakistan has entered the most promising second phase of CPEC. The focus of the CPEC's second phase is to effectively operationalize Gwadar and SEZs and set up important industries there. Given Pakistan's weak economy, we will be doomed, if these goals are not achieved, it said.

The members agreed that the aim behind offering tax waiver to other industries just like the construction sector should be to incentivize industries, enhance local and foreign direct investment, generate revenue, create massive employment opportunities for local people and ultimately lead Pakistan towards the path of sustainable economic development.

The committee asked the FBR to convene a joint meeting along with the Board of Investment, the Ministry of Commerce, and Ministry of Industries and Production and to come up with comprehensive proposals so that the industrial sector could be incentivized well in time.

The commerce ministry secretary said they had requested the Prime Minister Office to reconstitute the committee for further deliberation and taking decision on the implementation of axle load policy.

Noor Alam Khan, Sadaqat Ali Khan Abbasi, Umer Aslam Khan, Nafeesa Khattak, Ahsan Iqbal, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Mehnaz Akber Aziz, Zahid Akram Durrani, and Aslam Bhootani attended the meeting.

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