PM sets up Business Advisory Council; announces Business Reforms Package

ISLAMABAD, Nov 28 (APP): Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif Thursday announced to establish PM Business Advisory Council besides unveiling a comprehensive reforms package to encourage business and investment opportunities in the country. Addressing a gathering of businessmen and industrialists here at the Prime Minister’s Office, the Prime Minister said he would also establish an Advisory Council exclusively to deal with the issues confronting the agriculture sector of the country. He said the Business Advisory Council would meet quarterly to debate the issues and ideas to enhance business activity and attract foreign investment to the country. The Prime Minister also announced various incentives for the highest taxpayers of the country as well as those bringing themselves voluntarily under the tax net.
He said the government would issue Privilege Cards to 400 highest taxpayers to entitle them for VIP airport lounge, fast track clearance, gratis passport and baggage allowance worth $5,000.  Moreover, they would also be given excellence awards and he would also host a reception in their honor, the Prime Minister said.
He also announced the exemption from any investigation about the income sources for those who would invest in construction, livestock, captive power plants, Thar Coal and mining in Balochistan.
However, the industries including arms, explosives, fertilizers, sugar, cigarettes, beverages, spinning, flour, ghee and cooking oil would not be eligible to avail this offer.
The Prime Minister said anyone paying 25 percent more tax than the previous year would be given exemption from detailed audit and also extended the last date for filing of tax returns till December 15, 2013.
Prime Minister announced exemption from penalties, default surcharge and detailed audit for those bringing them themselves voluntarily under tax net as well as the first-time tax payers.
He told the gathering that the government has also exempted the tax payers from FBR’s access to bank accounts.Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said for availing these incentives, it was required that investment is made in Green Field Industrial roject after January 1, 2014. Under the scheme the minimum investment required as Rs 25 million and it should create at least five jobs.
Moreover, he said the immunity shall not be available to proceeds of crime relating to offences under the Narcotic Substances Act 1997, Anti Terrorist Act 1997 and Anti Money Laundering Act 2010.
He said top 100 taxpayers each would be issued taxpayers recognition card to CEOs’, main share-holders, salaried and non-salaried individuals.
He said the top 400 taxpayers would also be invited on March 23, August 14, and other state banquets on rotational basis, besides increase in baggage allowance from $500 to $ 5,500.
The Excellence Awards would be given to top 10 taxpayers in each category, he said.
Nawaz Sharif said in order to encourage individuals to file their tax returns, they would be declared immune from penalties, default surcharge and audit if income tax returns for the last five years or missing returns for the last five years are filed and minimum tax of Rs 20,000 per tax year is paid.
Moreover, he said the provincial governments will be engaged through the Inter-Provincial Coordination Division and Council of Common Interests to create ease of doing business by consolidating, rationalizing and minimizing the licensing, registration and inspection regimes. They will also facilitate setting up of Special Economic Zones by recommending cases to the federal government.
The provinces, he said would also be asked to facilitate contract enforcement by setting up commercial courts.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the country has rich investment potential, industrial base, and efficient entrepreneurs, but the dent caused by nationalization policy of 1972 damaged the sector when around 32 industries were nationalized.
He said had the country been keeping that momentum, the exports would have surged to $300 to $400 billion instead of current $25 billion.
He said Pakistan’s literacy and growth rate was one of the lowest in the world and even the countries with smaller population, such as Turkey and Thailand, export 10 to 15 times more than Pakistan.
He stressed the need to ponder as to why the country lagged behind and could not excel in economic sector as it did in defence sector.
The basic factor, he said was the frequent abrogation of the constitution, ousting of the judiciary and that the country had been witnessing one-man show that lacked consultation and collective wisdom.
He said owing to poor law and order situation, the investors were even reluctant to visit Pakistan and preferred to hold business meetings in Dubai, or in their own country.
He said besides security, the investors were sensitive about country’s judiciary to judge the future protection of their investment.
Discussing ongoing operation in Karachi, the Prime Minister said such action should have been launched in the year 2000; however, he assured to take this operation to logical end.
He said those fanning sectarianism through loudspeakers should be dealt with strictly as such people were the enemies of the religion as well as the country.
Nawaz Sharif said the government was willing to carry forward the dialogue process as decided by political forces because terrorism had inflicted huge loss to the economy, lives of security personnel and innocent citizens.
The government, he said, even wanted to resolve the long-standing issues with India through dialogue and recalled the visit of the then Indian prime minister to Pakistan during his previous tenure on his invitation.
The prime minister also hinted at making legislation to resolve the issue of dual nationality and said that depriving the dual nationals of their rights was tantamount to undermining their integrity.
Mentioning about government’s plan to link Kashgar with Gwadar, he said China had shown interest to establish economic zone in the area and the planned Economic Corridor would reduce cost and distance of the exports of nearby states.
He said instead of seeking aid, the government always asked for trade links with other countries. He said the government was planning to execute the power projects to cope with country’s needs till 2025 when the power needs would swell to 40,000 megawatts.
He said recently launched two civil nuclear power plants in Karachi would produce 1100 MW each and that negotiation with China was in process for execution of three power projects to generate 5100 MW.
(Courtesy: APP)