Karachi, December 10, 2018 (PPI-OT): Chairman Businessman Group (BMG) and Former President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Siraj Kassam Teli, who led a KCCI’s delegation at Sunday’s meeting with Prime Minister Imran Khan at Governor House, appreciated the Prime Minister for taking business and industrial community’s input on numerous issues and immediately directing the relevant Ministers to take measures for creating an enabling business environment as per aspirations of the business and industrial community.
According to a statement issued, Vice Chairmen BMG and Former Presidents KCCI Tahir Khaliq, Haroon Farooki and Anjum Nisar, President KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda, Vice President Asif Sheikh Javaid, Former Presidents Haroon Agar, Younus Muhammad Bashir, Shamim Ahmed Firpo and Chairman KCCI’s Special Committee for Small Traders Majeed Memon were also part of the KCCI’s delegation.
Siraj Teli said that KCCI’s delegation expressed deep concerns over Gas Infrastructure Development Cess (GIDC) issue which remains unresolved to date and also stressed that Sindh has the first right on its gas reserves under Article 158 of the Constitution of Pakistan. “Therefore, the gas being produced in Sindh should at first be supplied to the province and after fulfilling the requirement of Sindh, surplus gas should be passed on to other provinces in line with Article 158 of Pakistan’s Constitution”, he added.
He welcomed PM’s directives to Finance Minister Asad Umer who was asked to hold a meeting with business community so that GIDC, uninterrupted gas supply to industries at required gas pressure, RLNG issue and judicious distribution of gas to Sindh as per Article 158 could be extensively discussed and steps could accordingly be taken to minimize the hardships being faced by Karachi’s business community.
Siraj Teli, while briefing the PM about gas supply situation, informed that although the Federal Government has barred SSGC from shutting down gas supply to industries in Karachi for three months which the business and industrial community warmly welcomes but it has been observed nowadays that the utility service provider has deliberately resorted to reduce the gas pressure in an attempt to pressurize the existing consumers to switch over to RLNG which was terribly affecting the production of many industrial units. Therefore, SSGC must strictly be ordered to maintain ample gas pressure with a view to ensure smooth functioning of industries in Karachi, he stressed.
He was of the opinion that it was highly unfair to supply RLNG to industries in Karachi and Sindh as the province was blessed with sufficient gas reserves therefore, it doesn’t require RLNG which should be provided to those industries in other provinces which were not producing suffice gas and suffering severe gas shortages.
He further informed that KCCI’s delegation further advised the Prime Minister to abolish Trade Organizations Ordinance TOO-2013 and reinstate TOO-2007 with a view to completely eradicate fake/ bogus trade associations/ chambers so that actual and genuine representatives of the business and industrial community could come forward to properly guide the government in the policy-making process. “If the government wants to see economic growth in Pakistan, it has to focus on promoting the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) who are the actual stakeholders”, he added.
Siraj Teli appreciated PM Imran Khan for accepting KCCI’s point of view about the anti-encroachment drive in Karachi which was being carried out in such a manner to target the poor people only whereas no action has been taken so far against huge encroachments at Shahrah-e-Faisal particularly those outside all the five-star hotels in Karachi. In response, PM Imran Khan stated that the government would approach the honorable court to explain the actual position in which the poor people have been targeted.
“We strongly suggested that those elements responsible for nurturing these encroachments and taking Bhatta or rentals from encroachers should be detained first as they are actually behind this disastrous situation”, he added.
Referring to severe water crises being faced by Karachi, he said that the Prime Minister directed the Federal Minister for Water Resources to look into this issues and get it resolved with a view to provide relief to the citizens and business community of Karachi.
While thanking the Prime Minister for taking steps to empower Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Vice Chairman BMG and Former President KCCI Haroon Farooki said, “We have been constantly demanding this from time to time as I firmly believe that the canvas of Commerce is very huge and I am very grateful to the Prime Minister for accommodating all my three suggestions pertaining to empowerment of Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry and Planning Division, restructuring of FBR and taking measures to keep FBR confined to revenue collection only.”
He was of the opinion that as the direction is pretty much clear now, it is time for implementation of these measures and formulation of legislations for FBR’s restructuring which must be done in consultation with KCCI which was acceded by PM Imran Khan. As Small and Medium Enterprises and Manufacturing Sector are the major stakeholders in any economy, these legislations should be finalized after taking inputs from SMEs and Manufacturing sector which was also agreed by Prime Minister.
Referring to numerous advisories formulated to seek inputs for taxation measures, Haroon Farooki said that these advisories usually comprise of tax consultants and representatives from Tax Bar which should not be the case as they are not the actual stakeholders. “The government will have to include the actual stakeholder i.e. the taxpayers in these advisories as they are well aware of ground realities and in a much better position to give valuable inputs for improving taxation which was also agreed by the Prime Minister”, he added.
President KCCI Junaid Esmail Makda, while highlighting some key points of discussions at the meeting, said, “KCCI strongly advocated the need to carryout legislations for many pending Bills whereas more legislations have to be done for new Bills as well.”
He said that the government was further requested to make efforts and devise effective strategies for fulfilling 27 conventions in order to maintain ratification of European Union’s GSP Plus status.
He said that Prime Minister Imran Khan was further requested that many individuals availed the Amnesty Scheme and accordingly paid taxes but unfortunately their cases were not timely accepted in FBR’s portal due to some IT-related glitches so such individuals should not be taken to task. The Prime Minister, while agreeing to KCCI’s suggestion, assured that all such cases would be cleared and these individuals will not be disturbed.
He said that it was also assured that in order to minimize the grievances being faced by the affectees of anti-encroachment drive, the government will form a committee with Karachi Chamber to come up with strategies on how to provide relief to genuine affectees of anti-encroachment drive.
Junaid Makda further asked the government to look into the issue being faced by the construction sector which pertains construction of high-rise buildings and also requested to appoint KCCI’s representatives at the Boards of SSGC and Port Qasim so that day-to-day affairs could be reviewed and any hindrance in smooth trade could be timely addressed.
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