KARACHI: Deputy Chairman Senate of Pakistan Saleem Mandviwalla has advised the business community of Karachi to bring all their issues including the zero-rating, gas crisis, sales tax and other issues to his notice and also give presentations about the same so they could better understand the problems and subsequently take them up with relevant Ministers including Asad Umer, Razak Dawood and others. 

Speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) on Saturday, Saleem Mandviwalla said that the business community will have to play the lead role by participating in all the affairs of the government as it was these businessmen and industrialists who know the ground realities and face all types of issues. 

Chairman Businessmen Group & Former President KCCI Zubair Motiwala, Vice Chairman BMG Anjum Nisar, General Sectary BMG AQ Khalil, President KCCI Shariq Vohra, Senior Vice President Saqib Goodluck, Vice President Shamsul Islam Khan, Chairman Site Association of Industry Abdul Hadi, Former Presidents and KCCI Managing Committee Members were also present at the meeting.

Responding to concerns expressed on the dilapidated infrastructure of Site area, Saleem Mandviwalla said that it was totally incorrect that the Sindh government has been sitting idle since last 12 years as various steps have been taken from time to time to improve the infrastructure of Karachi but the situation was not 100%, therefore, the business community of Karachi Chamber should join hands with the Sindh government under public-private partnership to improve the infrastructure of not only Site area but also other industrial zones which will not be opposed by any minister. 

Replying to the problems being faced due to Sales Tax on Services by indenters, he assured to summon Chairman FBR and Chairman SRB in his office to discuss and resolve this matter. “I am ready to fully cooperate with the business community, just a phone call away, available in my office to listen to the grievances and go out of the way to resolve the same”, he added.

He further pointed out that he received many applications from all over the country from businessmen who have been victimized by National Accountability Bureau (NAB) which should not be allowed to take action against the business community as the businessmen and industrialists were already dealing with other departments including the FBR, FIA, SECP and others hence, there was no need for NAB which should keep its activities confined to public sector and politicians only. Instead, NAB should facilitate the business community of Karachi by opening up a helpdesk at KCCI as done in Islamabad Chamber.  

He said that Chambers around the world have been playing an important role in government affairs but unfortunately in Pakistan, no governmental role has been given to Chambers which was unfortunate. The activities of Chambers must not remain confined to budget proposals and economic policies only but they must also participate in all the meetings and even the political activities as nobody knows the ground realities better than the business community and it was these businessmen who go through all kinds of troubles due to poor policies.

Chairman BMG Zubair Motiwala, while highlighting the miseries and hardships being faced by the business community due to dilapidated infrastructure of Karachi, stated that this was not just an issue of Site area but the state of infrastructure in all the industrial zones was awful. “To improve the infrastructure of Site area, PC-1 has already been approved and an amount of Rs1 billion was allocated for construction of 23 roads but to date, the development work has not commenced”, he said, adding that the dreadful state of Site Area can be gauged from the terrible state of Site Limited which was responsible for improving the infrastructure of Site but its own condition was terrible. Site Limited has the capacity to employ 400 individuals but around 1700 workers have been appointed in this institution.

He requested the Deputy Chairman Senate to pay a visit to Site area and also to the office of Site Limited so that he could personally gauge the ground realities and see what was happening at Site Limited.

While appreciating the release of refund claims through the FASTER system, he said that no matter how efficient the system was, refunds of Rs170 billion would remain stuck up, creating severe liquidity crunch for the exporters. “We need an even-playing field therefore, the government will have a look into the possibility of reintroducing the zero-rating facility which was badly needed by the exporters to stay competitive otherwise the growth being witnessed nowadays, particularly in the textile sector, will not be sustainable”, he added.

He was of the opinion that when Vietnam can earn exports of US$37 billion in a month and when Bangladesh was looking forward to improving its textile exports to US$50 billion by 2023, Pakistan also has the potential to improve its exports to US$100 billion but that can only be achieved, if the business and industrial community was provided with an even playing field and practical steps were taken to ensure ease of doing business while the government must also take measures for broadening the country’s meagre tax base as only 1% of the country’s population pays taxes.

Vice-Chairman BMG Anjum Nisar underscored the need to ensure ease of doing business and adopt business-friendly policies implemented in countries like Vietnam where the exports for a single month have risen by US$37 billion while abrupt changes in policies must be strictly avoided so that the business community could focus on their work instead of staying tangled throughout the year to get the numerous taxation-related and other policy matters resolved. “Not only the export sector but the local industries must also be given equal support as they, despite so many issues, are also struggling really hard to keep their businesses alive”, he added.

General Secretary BMG AQ Khalil, while appreciating the role being played by Saleem Mandviwalla who always obstructs and opposes anti-business policies and decisions, sought Mandviwalla’s assistance in dealing with delays in clearance of containers, particularly the consignments carrying raw materials which terribly affect not only the exports but also the local production. “The business community have been facing serious taxation issues, particularly sales tax on services by indenters, which must also be taken up with SRB and FBR in order to ensure the creation of an enabling business environment”, he added.

President KCCI Shariq Vohra, in his short remarks, stressed that the federal and provincial governments will have to give attention to the issues of Karachi and they must take steps for improving the dilapidated infrastructure of all industrial zones of Karachi particularly Site areas where the road network hardly existed.

The author is a senior business and economy journalist . He has worked for leading local and international news organisations.


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