ISLAMABAD: The business community representatives on Thursday held a meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan and the government decided to constitute a review committee with sweeping powers to scrutinise cases against top business tycoons where loss of public exchequer is involved before forwarding the same to National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
The prime minister agreed to constitute a review committee comprising reputed businessmen/professionals with the power to evaluate the cases against the businessmen and then recommend to either scrap cases or forward them to NAB for further perusal keeping in view merit of the cases.
A federal minister told The News in background discussions that the top businessmen held detailed meeting with Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Wednesday night and termed it very “cordial” where businessmen acknowledged that 90 percent of their concerns were addressed. He said that the business tycoons raised complaints against high handedness of NAB and the government decided to constitute review committee. He said that there was recognition among the businessmen that the stabilisation of economy resulted into giving pain on short term basis but ultimately the growth path would be pursued to kick-start the sluggish economic activities.
Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Shahbar Zaidi told this scribe that businessmen meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan was aimed at devising strategy how to give momentum to the path of economic growth and said that the businessmen asked for fast track privatisation of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs). He said that they asked the government to provide incentives to construction industries and the FBR was going to place special procedures next week.
When asked about concerns expressed by the businesses about delays in refunds, the FBR chairman said that they could not stop release of refunds if applied through new system FASTER. The sources said that top businessmen asked the FBR to provide refundson the basis of purchases and bring amendments to form H of FASTER.
The FBR refused to compromise on documentation drive saying that the CNIC condition would continue but the tax machinery was willing to go slow on this important task for next few months.
The businessmen asked for resolving the issue of refund bonds as the banks were not allowing them tradable. Now the premier instructed the FBR to resolve this issue as the government issued securities/guarantees for making bond tradable/negotiable.
On issue of moving towards point of sale, the FBR chairman said that the cash machines of big shopping malls and reputed chains would be linked with software developed by the FBR and its receipts would be incorporated with bar code so the customers would be able to track down its contribution on account of payment of GST. He said that the formal sector would have incentive to pay 14 percent GST instead of standard rate of 17 percent.
He said that the FBR planned to install software along with cash machines at 20,000 shops and malls all over the country till coming December 2019.
He was of the view that the standard rate of GST should be brought down from 17 percent to 12.5 percent as effective rate of GST was not more than 2 to 3 percent at the moment when they were charging GST at rate of 17 percent.
On revenue collection, he said that the FBR so far collected Rs963 billion in first quarter (July-Sept) period of the current fiscal year against desired target of Rs1071 billion and they would explain before the IMF review mission that the import compression of $3 billion (Rs468 billion) resulted in nosedive of 27 percent reduction in revenue collection in shape of 17 percent GST, 9 percent Customs Duty and 6 percent Income tax at import stage that caused revenue loss of Rs126 billion.
He said that one top businessmen praised the FBR publicly that no advance were taken by the FBR as he wanted to deposit Rs3 billion but the FBR took due tax amount of Rs1 billion which he described as pleasant surprise for him.
Earlier, talking to a delegation of various chambers of commerce and industry including Karachi and Lahore chambers, the prime minister said that a committee of business personalities was being formed to resolve the reservations.
In August, the federal cabinet had decided to make some procedural changes in NAB's working to provide a "fearless" environment for business activities and investment for the revival of the slowing economy.
The prime minister in his meeting with the Chambers of Commerce and Industry said that Pakistan's development was linked to the economy and added that the government was committed to providing "all possible facilities" to the business community for profitable business activities.
The members apprised the prime minister of the problems being faced by the business community and presented their proposals in this regard. The business leaders also felicitated the prime minister on his courageous speech at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) 74th summit session last month.
Prime Minister's Adviser on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh; Adviser to PM on Commerce, Textile, Industries and Production and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood; Board of Investment Chairman Zubair Gillani and others attended the meeting.
The prime minister emphasised the importance of a strong partnership between the government and the business community for the country's development.
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