LCCI Founders Group’s 7-point formula for economic uplift

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LAHORE, June 19 (APP): The Founders Group of Lahore Chamber of
Commerce & Industry on Sunday gave a seven-point formula to the
government for economic turnaround of the country within the
shortest possible time.

The Group Chairman Ijaz Butt and senior leader of the group Mian Muhammad Ashraf, while speaking in a meeting of the group here, said
that if the suggestions were implemented in letter and spirit, the
country would not be in need of any sort of foreign assistance.

LCCI former presidents including Syed Mohsin Raza Bukhari, Iftikhar
Ali Malik, Tariq Hameed, Sheikh Mohammad Asif, Mian Misbah-ur-Rehman, Shahid Hassan Sheikh, Mian Muzaffar Ali, Farooq Iftikhar, Ijaz A. Mumtaz, Abdul Basit, Nasir Saeed and other leaders of Founders Group also spoke on the occasion.

Ijaz Butt and Mian Muhammad Ashraf said that economically, the country was passing through a very difficult time. The business community, they added, was ready to do everything to make the country a hub of business and economic activities. After a number of meetings, the Founders Group had reached the conclusion that there were seven areas that need immediate attention of the policymakers.

They said that energy demand was growing with every passing day.
Though the government was working in energy sector effectively and a
number of power projects were in the pipeline but at the same time it
should also develop alternate means of electricity generation. Had
some measures taken a decade ago, the situation would have been different today, they added.

They said the government should take immediate measures to eliminate circular debt so that the gap between demand and supply could be
curtailed. Secondly, line losses and power theft should be controlled,
and above all, there should be a greater focus on construction of water reservoirs.

Amongst the alternate sources of energy, they said, biomass showed tremendous potential with total capacity of over 22000 MW in Pakistan to which little technical training was required to bring this resource in use. Alternate Energy Board must concentrate on it to establish these units in villages.

Ijaz Butt and Mian Muhammad Ashraf said that coal, hydropower and biomass could produce energy at a flat rate of less than Rs 5 per unit
for 20 years, helping manufacturing industry to grow unabated with no taxation on inputs and availability of technically better quality
workforce.

They called for withdrawing all taxes on the energy sector.
They elaborated said that with the single digit mark-up, the government actually would be expediting the process of industrialization in the country. Resultantly there would be more jobs for the unemployed youth while inflation would also come down with the improvement of supply chain of consumer goods. The government should immediately cut duties and taxes on it. For bringing down the taxes and duties on oil products, they added, the non-development expenditures should be curtailed as it was a common phenomenon that untoward economic situations were dealt through special measures.
They also endorsed the business community’s demand for bringing down the rate of general sales tax to single digit as the high GST rate
was discouraging the people from coming into the tax net. All local
chambers could help the state in recovering and documenting economy so that only direct taxes should be levied, they added.

They said that within the next two decades, the literacy rate in Pakistan was likely to reach 75 per cent thus the focus should be on
general, technical education and vocational training in rural areas.
The technical training needed to be transformed through Chinese
support in areas such as mining, power generation and processed food industries, they added.

They said higher education must be more technical and instead of
sending students abroad and making huge spendings on their foreign education, local facilities in technical institutes must be established.

With more than 10 trillion dollars worth of natural resources, they said Pakistan must concentrate on developing local technology for excavation of minerals such as copper, coal, iron, and gold, for at least two decades. Transfer of technology from China in mining must take place at rapid pace, they said.

They stressed the need for improving law and order situation to encourage foreign investment.