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March 20, 2019

Private sector urged to provide actionable proposals for federal budget

Lahore

March 20, 2019

LAHORE:The private sector should prepare actionable proposals and submit them timely for the PTI government’s first federal budget 2019-20.

Likewise, the Planning Commission is formulating the 12th Five Year Plan and the Ministry of Commerce is formulating a three-year Strategic Trade Policy Framework for which the business community should proactively engage with relevant departments and submit sector-specific recommendations, speakers said during a roundtable meeting to discuss pre-budget proposals for budget 2019-20 also called upon the government to strengthen inter-departmental coordination to avoid the challenge of double taxation. The meeting was jointly organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and National Network of Economic Think Tanks in collaboration with Government College University Lahore on Tuesday.

Khalid Sherdill, head of the Punjab Urban Unit, said the government of Punjab had formulated the Punjab Spatial Strategy with the aim to provide suitable zoning so that agricultural land can be protected.

Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, Joint Executive Director SDPI, said there was a need to expedite work on the Punjab Smart Regulation Act to reduce the regulatory burden on enterprises in Punjab. He said the Punjab Revenue Authority would need to expedite collaboration with FBR so that instances of double taxation could be avoided. He said the government of Punjab needed to see in its growth strategy how the private sector could gain from opportunities in the next phase of the CPEC and special economic zones. Detailed studies are required on what will be the sectors which see high demand in China. Studies are also required on which sectors can present an opportunity for joint ventures between Chinese and Pakistani enterprises, he added. Dr. Saima Sarwar, head of Economics Department at GC University Lahore, said the focus of the next budget and future policies should be to cater to the needs of youths. She said the youth would require appropriate and quality skills which had demand in the labour market. Mohammad Javed Afzal from Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (SMEDA) said they had identified 13 growth sectors which could provide jobs to a substantial number of an unemployed young population.

Dr. Shehla Javed Akram, founding President of the Women Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Lahore Division, said the government at all levels needed to encourage start-ups and new investors through tax breaks and recognition.

Basit Asif, representing the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, asked the relevant government departments to focus on IT as a key sector for future growth. He said a large number of youth entering the labour market could be accommodated in ICT-enabled industries. Kashif Anwar, President Friends of Economic & Business Reforms, urged the government to reform tax policies to restore dynamism in the real estate sector, which is on a downturn.

The representatives from the Planning & Development Department, government of Punjab, said the provincial government had formulated the Punjab Growth Strategy which provided plans for sector-specific growth. There is a key focus on agriculture and livestock development particularly in the deprived regions of Punjab including districts of South Punjab.

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