A high-level meeting chaired by Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Tuesday reviewed several proposals to simplify the system of recovery and payment of taxes.
The government needs to take immediate steps to facilitate people in paying their taxes, the chief minister said. This is an imperative measure if the government wants to increase its revenue, he said.
He issued instructions to set up a joint committee comprising senior officials of the National Bank of Pakistan and the government. The committee has been given two months to submit recommendations for overhauling the system of paying and collecting taxes.
“We are moving towards a strong economy…the increased confidence of investors – both local and foreign – is reflective of how far we have come.”
State Bank Governor Ashraf Mahmood, National Bank of Pakistan President Syed Ahmad Iqbal Ashraf, Bank of Punjab President Naeemud Din Khan, Finance Minister Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, the chief secretary and other relevant officers attended the meeting.
Emergency plan for monsoon
At a separate meeting, senior government officials and the chief minister discussed plans to prevent floods in the monsoon season. The Cabinet Committee on Floods presented a report with regard to visits at various vulnerable sites and the Punjab Disaster Management Authority gave a detailed briefing regarding protective arrangement.
Sharif said all relevant departments must remain on high alert in view of rains and possible floods. “Instead of sitting in Lahore, all relevant ministers and secretaries must be present at high-risk sites.”
He told DCOs to check their stock of essential equipment and send him a report on it without delay. “Each district must have an abundant stock of medicine and rescue equipment,” he said. Federal and provincial departments were also requested to coordinate on all relevant matters.
Minister Col (r) Shuja Khanzada said arrangements had been finalised to cope with any untoward situation. He said protective bunds and spurs were in satisfactory condition.
Social protection for the disabled
A social protection programme for disabled people will be launched in the current fiscal year, the chief minister said at a meeting.
Under the programme, disabled people will be given financial assistance each month. They will also be offered vocational training and opportunities to be financially independent, the chief minister said.
He said Rs2 billion has been allocated for the programme this year. A social protection policy is on the cards and the government is in the process of negotiating with the private sector to introduce special courses for skills development, the chief minister said.
Sahiwal Coal Power Project
Sharif spoke to Wang Wen Zong, president of the company Hauneng Shandong, about various matters pertaining to the Sahiwal Coal Power Project. They watched a video of construction activities on the project site and discussed ways to ensure speedy implementation of the project.
Sharif said the two coal power plants, of 660 megawatt each, were a perfect example of Pak-China friendship. He expressed hope that the project would continue to strengthen economic relations between the two countries.
He said the project must be completed by 2017. “Both power plants should start operations that year.”
He said relevant federal and provincial institutions will extend all out cooperation to the Chinese company to complete the project on time.
He said all possible measures were being taken to ensure regular supply of coal to the site from the Karachi Port. The best facilities have been provided to Chinese engineers and staff working on the project, he said.
“These super-critical coal power plants are environment-friendly,” Sharif said. Every moment is precious with regard to this project and there is no room for delay, he said.
The chief minister expressed satisfaction over the pace of the project so far and said the Punjab government was grateful to Hauneng Shandong and the Ryui Group for their cooperation. He also thanked Zong for issuing orders for the purchase of generators, turbines and boilers without delay.
Zong thanked Sharif for taking personal interest and assured him that the project would be up and running in 2017.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2015.