ICCI eyes banking, agri sectors, industrial uplift

ISLAMABAD: The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that government has reduced income tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent on income of banks arising from loans to micro enterprises, SMEs, agriculture and low-cost housing finance which was laudable as it would help the banking sector to extend more credit to SMEs for business expansion.

It hailed the second supplementary finance bill 2019 presented b-y the PTI government as it has offered good benefits to SMEs, industry, agriculture and capital market that would spur the growth of these important sectors of the economy.

President, ICCI Ahmed Hassan Moughal said that the new mini-budget has either removed or reduced customs duty on industrial inputs covered under 53 tariff lines, additional customs duty on industrial inputs covered under 22 tariff lines, regulatory duty on industrial inputs covered under 30 tariff lines and Regulatory Duty on smuggling prone items effective from 31st March 2019 that would reduce the cost of doing business and accelerate the growth of manufacturing activities.

ICCI President said that government has taken a good step for ease of doing business by allowing the businesses to file biannually withholding tax statements instead of filing them every month which was a great hassle.

He said that withdrawal of withholding tax on banking transactions of filers was also a positive step as it would provide them good relief.

He hoped that these good measures would reduce the cost of doing business and accelerate the growth of agriculture business and industrial activities in the country.

Rafat Farid Senior Vice President of ICCI said that providing five-year exemption to industrial undertakings set up between 1st March 2019 and 30th June 2023 for manufacturing of equipment used in generation of renewable energy was a commendable step as it would be helpful for producing cheap renewable energy for industry and consumers.

He said that giving sales tax exemption on imported plant and machinery for greenfield industries would encourage greenfield investment and industrialization.

Billions of rupees of exporters were stuck up with Federal Board of Revenue in refunds, which was causing liquidity problems for them and it was encouraging that the government has allowed issuance of promissory notes to claimants of refunds at their option that would help in resolving this longstanding issue.

Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) on Wednesday expressed positive feelings on Finance Amendments Bill-2019 saying that various proposals of LCCI had been accepted by the government.

While addressing a Press Conference, the LCCI President Almas Hyder said that measures announced in Finance Amendments Bill 2019 would support the industry. He said that measures for ease of doing business, elimination of withholding tax on banking transactions were longstanding demand of the LCCI.

He said that removal or decrease in Regulatory Duty on 150 items would bring down the cost of doing business; discourage smuggling and enhance competitiveness of the industry.

Cost of doing business in Pakistan was higher because of high rate of duties and taxes on industrial raw materials and machinery. Lowering the duties and taxes on essentials for industry would certainly boost the local industry and help exporters but further reduction or elimination was needed, he added.

Almas Hyder said that reduction in bank tax rate for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) would support this vital sector of economy. He said that production of car industry was fallen up to 30 per cent because of difference between filer and non-filer. Permitting non-filer to purchase vehicles would expand the size of auto industry. Focus on better conditions for investment was good because investment always played the role of oxygen for economy. Investment should be encouraged in all sectors of economy, he urged.

He said that reduction of tax on marriage halls and elimination of duty on news prints were good measures, asserting that tax exemption facility to the industries in SEZs (Special Economic Zones) was a good step but same facility should also be given to the industrial expansions.