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Unlikely future: Business community pessimistic about Punjab growth strategy

LAHORE: Punjab’s business community has declared that the country’s largest province is unable to keep up with its growth pace as devised by the provincial finance minister Ayesha Ghaus Pasha.

The business community of the province recognises the efforts of the provincial as well as the federal government in providing round the clock energy to its industry, but said that the discrimination in inter-provincial energy prices and different provincial taxations will never enable the province to achieve its 8% growth rate target.

Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s former president Mian Anjum Nisar said that there is a dire need to shift the entire paradigm to renewable and cheap energy solutions, so the issue of cost competitiveness can be achieved.

He further said that being the largest province, Punjab government should also eliminate unnecessary taxes, like 0.9% Infrastructure Development Cess Surcharge imposed in the recent budget and 0.3% stamp duty on cost and freight operations.

“It is not possible to achieve the Punjab growth strategy target as the country is already facing declining exports, closure of industries with overall export revenue loss of around $5 billion,” said Nisar.

He said that such hurdles are the biggest reasons in achieving targets and to remain competitive both in domestic as well as in international markets.

Since Pasha has taken charge of the provincial finance ministry, she had devised a comprehensive plan named “Punjab Growth Strategy” to boost the provincial economy.

The target set was to achieve 8% growth rate by 2018, along with generating one million jobs per annum. Additionally the province set a target to increase its exports by 15%, attracting foreign investments to double its private sector investments along with adding 2 million skilled graduates by 2018. It is expected that once the energy crisis in Punjab ends its gross regional product will increase up to 2%, but if government withdraws provincial taxes then it will further encourage and facilitate the local business and industries, said Abdul Rahim, a Punjab-based exporter.

He further said that Punjab is the only province where such taxes have been imposed, there is no other example found where a provincial management single-handedly imposes taxes which puts the business community in trouble and they are not able to generate new employment opportunities.

“The Punjab growth strategy will remain a distinct dream under the circumstances which the Punjab business community is facing,” Rahim added.

Courtesy : Express Tribune



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