ISLAMABAD (APP): Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) President Muhammad Shakeel Munir has said that active participation of the business community and industrialists in the legislation process is imperative for a balanced trade policy.
The direct representation of the community in the parliament or in the legislation process, he added, would help address the issues related to business and industry and it was the only way forward to establish a healthy trade culture in the country and more essential for sustainable economic growth.
The ICCI president, in an exclusive interview with APP, said the industrialists were facing a myriad of challenges, ranging from legal barriers to taxation, besides lack of access to loans and financial know-how that prevented them from establishing businesses on strong footing.
In many developing countries, he said, the focus was on building the capacity of entrepreneurs, ecosystem intermediaries and investors in order to increase the investment.
He said the trading community had concern over the recently new fixed tax law introduced by the Federal Board of Revenue for the collection of sales tax with monthly electricity bills. It would particularly affect the small traders, who would have to pay minimum sales tax of Rs 3,000 even though their monthly electricity bill was less than Rs 1,000, he added. Shakeel Munir said the FBR was previously collecting sales tax from the retailers at the rate of 5% and 7.5% of the electricity bill, who would now be charged minimum Rs 3,000 on the bills of up to Rs30,000.
It would put an extra burden on the small traders, he added, and urged the government to revise the minimum slab of sales tax in consultation with the traders’ bodies, including the ICCI. Finance Minister Miftah Ismail should take the lead in that regard and sort out the important issue.
Replying to a question about the economic growth, Shakeel Munir said, “Keeping in view the political situation, the national economy seems to be heading towards a crisis-like situation.” The economic stability, he added, was directly linked with the political stability. Both were essential to achieve the goal of sustainable economic growth rate, he remarked.
To a question about the involvement of public and stakeholders in policymaking and legislation, the ICCI president said it could be done through a comprehensive dialogue and consultation with the quarters concerned and seeking experts’ opinions on the matter. An equal participation of the representatives of industry, chambers and business community was quite important in the dialogue process, which would yield a better result regarding the policy formulation and also help in its implementation on a large scale, he added.
He opined,” Bureaucrats are not mostly well versed with the sufferings and problems of a small businessman, and only their true representative bodies can help identify the same and the way forward to address them effectively.”
He suggested that policies regarding trade and industry should be implemented through their associations as it would enhance the trust of the business community and help bridge their gap with the government.
It would be a more suitable option where all the stakeholders or representatives of the business community directly took the ownership of the government’s trade policy and ultimately accountable for its implementation, he added.
The ICCI president said the government had so far done a job by proper legislation for tax collection, particularly introduction of some innovative policies to bring maximum business community members under the tax net.
He proposed that there must be a reward and acknowledgment policy for those who deposited huge tax amounts in the national kitty every year. It might be an appreciation certificate or few sweet words for big tax payers, which would encourage others to follow suit.
Shakeel Munir said system reforms were the only solution for a positive and progressive socio-economic change in the country. It should be based on reward and punishment, which would not only ensure the working efficiency of institutions but also help promote the meritocracy culture in the country.
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