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August 3, 2018
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Imran’s govt policies on a few businesses to be watched closely

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August 3, 2018

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ISLAMABAD: Imran Khan’s upcoming government will be closely watched for its policies on certain businesses like sugar industry, cigarette trade and private housing development.

“Key business interest and lobbyist for different businesses are operating in full gear in order to ensure ‘right people’ in key positions, in the new government,” a source said, adding that Imran Khan needs to be extra careful not to get trapped by such business interests while making government policies.

The Imran government, it is said, will be under focus particularly relating to its policies on sugar, cigarette and private housing development.

Although sugar policy is an area of public policy where PPP, PML-N and PTI have always been on the same page, the last PML-N government under Shahid Khaqan Abbasi had decided in the ECC that in future no sugar export subsidy will be given.

Because leadership of all these three parties have key interests in sugar business, it will be interesting to see if the “no subsidy on sugar to mills “ decision sustains or is overturned by the Imran Khan government, an official source said. Moreover sugar mills are always opposing minimum purchase price of cane.

Policy on land acquisition for private housing development is another area of keen interest for many in Pakistani politics. During the PML-Q tenure in 2002-2007 when some of the PTI leaders were part of the regime, the land acquisition Act 1894 which is used for compulsory land acquisition from farmers for public purpose as generously used for land acquisition at the behest of housing developers in Punjab.

The last PML-N government of Shahbaz Sharif had banned compulsory land acquisition under 1894 law for private housing development since many superior judiciary decision has also held private housing development as “not a public purpose”.

It is feared by many that policy on land acquisition for real estate development may be reviewed since some key players in the PTI considers the present policy not friendly to real estate business.

The policy on tobacco taxation will also be under scrutiny as some parliamentarians, who have won from Swabi and Mardan, are considered to have huge stakes in cigarette industry and thus could influence the cigarette tax policy. The private sector involved in cigarette business is notoriously known for massive tax evasion.

A tobacco tax policy, according to sources, introduced sometimes back was though greatly appreciated by WB, IMF and multinationals, it made some major cigarette manufacturers upset.

There has been a great lobbying even recently to get the “three tier” cigarette tax policy introduced in 2017 budget undone.

FBR as well as independent tax experts, it is said, has been vehemently protecting the cigarette tax policy. It will be keenly seen by experts how PTI government deals with tobacco tax.

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