Pakistan Chambers of Commerce Urge Business-Friendly Policies to Revitalize Economy

Pakistan's business leaders call for urgent economic reforms, including tax simplification, utility price cuts, and FBR consultations, to boost the struggling economy and attract more taxpayers.

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Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
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Pakistan Chambers of Commerce Urge Business-Friendly Policies to Revitalize Economy

Pakistan Chambers of Commerce Urge Business-Friendly Policies to Revitalize Economy

Leaders from Pakistan's major chambers of commerce have called for the implementation of business-friendly policies to boost the country's struggling economy. In recent statements, the presidents of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), and the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) have highlighted key issues affecting businesses and proposed solutions to drive economic growth.

LCCI President Kashif Anwar emphasized that Pakistan has the potential to become an economic leader, but critical challenges such as currency devaluation, industrial closures, high utility prices, inflation, and elevated interest rates must be addressed through a collective approach. He criticized the rapid implementation of Statutory Regulatory Orders (SROs) and the Tajir Dost Scheme, arguing that they discourage local investors.

Anwar suggested simplifying the tax system and focusing on bringing non-taxpayers into the tax net rather than overburdening existing taxpayers. He also stressed the need to reduce utility prices and markup rates to support the industrial sector and promote sustainable growth.

SCCI President Fuad Ishaq expressed strong opposition to the simultaneous increase in fuel, electricity, and gas prices, terming it a "news of destruction" for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's industries. Despite the province being self-sufficient in electricity and gas production and a net exporter of these resources, Ishaq argued that it is unfair and unacceptable to burden Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with price hikes.

Ishaq demanded the immediate withdrawal of the recent fuel price increase, warning that the current situation has created great unrest among the people and business community, potentially leading to a law and order crisis in the province. He called for the government to utilize Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's abundant natural resources to benefit industries and businesses, enabling people to find employment within the province instead of migrating elsewhere.

FPCCI President Atif Ikram Sheikh advocated for increasing the tax-to-GDP ratio by broadening the tax base and simplifying the taxation system. He proposed a strategy to add 1.5 to 2 million new taxpayers within the next five years to achieve a tax-to-GDP ratio of 15 percent. Sheikh cautioned against implementing tax and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) reforms without consulting the business community, citing past failures.

Sheikh outlined a three-pronged approach: digitalization of the taxation system, FBR reforms in consultation with the business community, and ending maladministration and harassment by taxation authorities. Recognizing the challenges faced by businesses, he stressed the need for a new, expanded International Monetary Fund (IMF) program and called for an immediate reduction in the key policy rate.

Why this matters:Pakistan's economy has been wrestling with multiple challenges, including high inflation, currency devaluation, and industrial closures. The calls for business-friendly policies by the country's leading chambers of commerce highlight the urgent need for reforms to stimulate economic growth and create a more conducive environment for businesses to thrive. The proposed measures, such as simplifying the tax system, reducing utility prices, and implementing FBR reforms in consultation with the business community, have the potential to address key issues hindering Pakistan's economic progress.

"Pakistan has the potential to become an economic leader, but key issues like devaluation, industrial closures, high utility prices, inflation, and high interest rates need to be addressed through a collective approach," stated LCCI President Kashif Anwar. He emphasized the importance of simplifying the tax system and focusing on bringing non-taxpayers into the tax net to boost the country's economy. The chamber leaders have urged the government to take immediate action to implement business-friendly policies and address the concerns of the business community to prevent further economic deterioration and social unrest in the country.

Key Takeaways

  • Pakistani business leaders call for policies to boost struggling economy
  • Challenges include currency devaluation, industrial closures, high utility prices
  • Simplify tax system, reduce utility prices, and reform FBR to support businesses
  • Expand tax base to increase tax-to-GDP ratio to 15% in 5 years
  • Urgent need for reforms to stimulate growth and create conducive business environment