APP22-20 ISLAMABAD: July 20 – Caretaker Finance Minister, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar in a meeting with Pakistan Business Council delegation. APP

ISLAMABAD, July 20 (APP):Caretaker Finance Minister Friday said that improving the quality of local products at par with international standards was imperative to discourage imports into the country.
The minister was talking to a delegation of the Pakistan Business Council (PBC) led by Ehsan Malik and Bashir Ali Mohammad that met her here, according to press statement issued by the ministry.
She said that private sector should explore options for boosting exports and avail opportunity offered through establishment of Special Economic Zones.
The minister appreciated the proposals put forth by the delegation, saying these would be valuable for the future elected government, urging PBC to send their detail tax and other proposals to government so that work could be initiated by relevant ministries for consideration of new government.
The Minister agreed on the need for a more effective stakeholder consultation mechanism, adding that Pakistan industry needed to examine all options of managing their competitiveness.
She agreed on need for dealing with root causes of the energy liabilities such as transmission and distribution losses that have aggravated the circular debt problem.
Earlier, CEO, PBC gave a comprehensive presentation of the issues facing corporate
sector and shared proposals on strengthening the overall business environment
and steps that could help boost different sectors of the economy.
Concern was expressed regarding the trend towards deindustrialization in the country as Pakistan industry lacked competitiveness given the high cost of power and gas and faces difficult
business environment because of distortions in incentive framework and
inconsistencies of policy regime.
The PBC delegation advocated for provision of energy at competitive costs and addressing in a more holistic manner, the inefficiencies of DISCOs including their eventual privatization
that have resulted in high cost of power to industry.
At the same time PBC emphasized
broadening of tax base, reduction in indirect taxes and cascading duty
The delegates called for reduction and simplification and reduction in the number of taxes through unification of multiple taxes and reduction in tax rates to strengthen tax compliance.
The delegation also laid emphasis on provision of level playing field with the informal sector, with focus on steps for ease of doing business that would ultimately revitalize growth of industry
and thus generate jobs, exports and revenues for the national exchequer to
invest in social development.
The delegation observed that there was a need to effectively tap the potential in the country’s housing sector as it could help generate a large number ofjob opportunities annually.
PBC called for establishment of a a High
level Council including political leaderships as well as independent and corporate experts
tasked to develop deeper structural reforms and achieve broader acceptability
and consensus from various quarters concerned.
Among others, the meeting was attended by secretaries of the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform, the Ministry of Energy and Chairperson Federal Board of Revenue and additional secretary of the Ministry of Commerce.