Business leaders, COAS discuss economic initiatives

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LAHORE, Sep 03 (APP):Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) President Kashif Anwar alongside prominent business figures met with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir, here on Sunday.
Caretaker Punjab Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi also attended the meeting in which country’s economic trajectory was discussed in detail, LCCI spokesman confirmed this to the media.
During the meeting, General Asim Munir highlighted the pivotal role of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), emphasizing its potential to attract substantial investments of up to 100 billion dollars from countries such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and others. To bolster economic decision-making, he revealed the formation of task forces focused on economic matters and different sectors.
Kashif Anwar, in alignment with the broader business community, recommended active engagement with all chambers to incorporate diverse perspectives into the task force’s agenda.
Addressing critical issues faced by the public, Kashif Anwar proposed a reduction in income and sales tax rates on electricity bills. He noted that the populace grapples with the burden of high taxation on electricity, impacting daily lives, businesses and common people. Additionally, Kashif Anwar introduced a pragmatic approach to fuel adjustment charges, advocating for their collection during the winter months when electricity consumption is lower, alleviating financial stress on consumers.
Recognizing the pivotal role of exchange rates in Pakistan’s economic landscape, the LCCI President called for greater control over the rates of the US dollar in both interbank and open markets.
The COAS General Asim Munir responded positively, assuring that money exchanges would be brought under the purview of taxation, fostering transparency in dollar exchange and interbank rates.
President LCCI also pointed out that the disparity between the State Bank’s rate and the Hundi rate often leads to the preference for Hundi channels when it comes to remittances. He emphasized that if these rates were aligned, remittances would naturally flow through the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).
Kashif Anwar emphasized the importance of an enhanced and sustained interactive dialogue between the business community and relevant authorities. He expressed concerns over the prevailing lack of responsiveness to suggestions put forth by the business sector. Furthermore, Kashif Anwar called for a unified commitment from political parties, suggesting the signing of a charter of the economy as a precondition before any upcoming elections.
Expanding on General Asim Munir’s earlier remarks regarding the existence of a grey economy, accounting for 2 to 3 times of the overall documented economy, Kashif Anwar proposed an innovative approach. He recommended incentivizing the grey economy to transition into the formal, white economy, offering a strategic solution to combat this pervasive issue.
President LCCI said that the expansion of the tax base would remain elusive as long as the grey economy remains unincorporated, unable to contribute to the formal, white economy.
This gathering exemplified the shared dedication of both the business community and the military leadership to work collaboratively in addressing pressing economic challenges and propelling the nation toward growth.
As Pakistan continues to navigate economic complexities, this constructive dialogue signifies a promising step toward finding practical solutions and fostering economic prosperity for the nation, he concluded.
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