LAHORE - At a time when majority of industrial bodies and trade associations have appreciated the PM incentive package and amnesties for new investment in the country through Green Field Industrial Projects, the APCMA chairman Muhammad Ali Tabba has criticized the Premier, saying the amnesty discourages the real tax payers and encourages the tax evaders.

“The tax evaders think that after every 2-3 years government provides facility to whiten the black money then why to pay the tax. The last government of the PPP announced amnesty for investment through stock market and the Sharifs provided this facility through investment in industry and manufacturing sectors.”  In an exclusive interview with The Nation, Muhammad Ali Tabba, who is also Chief Executive of the Lucky Cement, also criticized those trade bodies and chambers, including FPCCI which appreciated the PM package, saying majority of them are tax evaders.

He said that it is tragic that in a country where billions of rupees are being made on daily basis, tax-to-GDP ratio is pathetically low at just 9.6pc. What makes the situation more painful is the fact that the government instead of taxing undocumented economy is offering more amnesty to tax evaders, he added.

The chairman of the All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association observed that in context of the prevailing grave challenge to combat terrorism, together with money laundering crisis, and the problem of ever-growing black money, which is around Rs2.5 trillion or 70 per cent of the total economy, there is an urgent need to introduce a law to prevent this huge money from becoming a lethal weapon in the hands of mafias. Honest taxpayers are shocked by the PM announcement of incentives for tax evaders rather than introducing legislature to confiscate untaxed assets, and make efforts to bring back looted money from abroad, he added.

“As majority of businessmen sitting in the trade associations and chambers are tax evaders, this amnesty scheme is suitable for them. That is why they are appreciating this scheme of whitening of black money.”

“The main reason of sharp decline in tax-to-GDP-ratio is announcement of such schemes, as they suggest the real taxpayers to refrain from paying tax and wait for such kinds of government packages.”

He suggested the government that amnesty schemes should not be used as a measure to raise revenue as these discourage honest taxpayers and create distrust in state institutions.

Muhammad Ali Tabba also flayed continuous cut in PSDP allocation which also causes drop in GDP growth, resulting into sharp decline in cement sales in the country.

He said that continued depression in the cement sales is putting pressure on cement manufacturers. When the prices of all inputs including power, gas and diesel are increasing at phenomenal pace it is essential for the industry to operate at higher capacities to reduce costs but due to lower GDP growth coupled with currency depreciation and lack of spending on public sector development programs, the industry is not able to grow as anticipated.

He attributed lower cement consumption to higher taxes imposed in the budget and increase in transportation charges due to strict compliance of axle load restrictions on the cement carriers. Muhammad Ali Tabba said that export options are diminishing with Afghanistan facing uncertainties after the withdrawal of Nato forces in 2014 while the Indians are in no mood to remove barriers to cement exports.

If cement sector is excluded from MRP and included in normal tax regime, the rate of cement will be reduced at least by Rs10 per 50kg bag, he claimed. If govt eliminates Rs500 per ton excise duty on cement an additional cut of Rs25 per bag will also be possible, he added.

Highlighting his company’s main features, he stated that Lucky Cement is Pakistan’s largest producer and leading exporter of quality cement with the production capacity of 7.75 million tons per annum. Over the years, the Company has grown substantially and is expanding its business operations with production facilities at in Karachi to cater to the Southern regions, Pezu and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Lucky Cement is an ISO 9001:2008 and 14001:2004 certified and also possesses many other international certifications including Bureau of Indian Standards, Sri Lankan Standard Institute, Standards Organization of Nigeria, Kenya Bureau of Standards and South African Bureau of Standards.

Lucky Cement was awarded with the 7th National CSR Award for supporting and improving education in Pakistan. Lucky Cement leads the way in environmental sustainability by fulfilling its target of planting 25,000 saplings.

Lucky Cement Limited has been awarded for its Green Supply Chain operations and logistics at the 2nd Intl Shipping, Logistics and Supply Chain conference.