Cost of doing business: Budget fails to impress traders

Says govt ignored demand for cut in general sales tax


Our Correspondent June 07, 2015
Traders says govt ignored demand for cut in general sales tax. CREATIVE COMMONS

ISLAMABAD: The traders here on Saturday, while expressing reservations on the fiscal budget 2015-16 said that the government had failed to come up with any tangible measures to help entrepreneurs reduce cost of doing business.

In a meeting chaired by the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) President Muzzamil Hussain Shah held at the chamber’s building, the representatives of the business community said that lack of measures to help reduce cost of doing business would make them less competitive in the international market.

The ICCI president said that the business community had strongly demanded an appropriate cut in general sales tax (GST) to spur growth of businesses and industrial activity.

Shah regretted that the government ignored their demand despite the fact that GST in Pakistan was almost the highest in the region that was making “our industry and exports uncompetitive”.

He said that the ICCI had proposed reduction in tax rates that would help broaden the tax base.

Shah said instead of bringing down the taxes, the government had imposed many incremental taxes that would create more difficulties for the businesses and the industry. “This will ultimately put more burden on the common man,” the ICCI president added.

He said that the targets set in the budget seemed quite ambitious and would require serious efforts to realise.

Shah said that the businessmen had been asking for zero-rated tax on export-oriented sectors, but instead of paying attention to their demand, the government had further increased sales tax from two to three per cent on sales to un-registered buyers. “This will create liquidity problems for the manufacturers and will make it difficult to achieve exports targets,” he stressed.

However, the ICCI president appreciated the incentives announced for the agriculture, construction and power sector investors and hoped that the measures would help the economy perform better.

Shah lauded the finance minister’s commitment to clear all the outstanding sales tax refunds by August 30, 2015 but stressed that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) should take serious measures to honour this commitment.

The ICCI former presidents, Abdul Rauf Alam and Tariq Sadiq said that increasing the federal Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP)’s budget to Rs700 billion would help accelerate the pace of developmental projects.

The former ICCI presidents said that during the financial year 2014-15, the government made cuts in the PSDP, which caused delay in many projects and advised that this practice should be avoided.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 7th, 2015.

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