Lahore -  The Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) has said that elimination of serious issues like smuggling, which are causing loss of billions of dollars to the national exchequer, could help reduce dependence on debts that are eating up massive part of the federal budget.

In a statement issued here on Thursday,  LCCI President Sheikh Muhammad Arshad said the government could save billions of dollars annually by overcoming the menace of smuggling.

“There would be no need to depend on loans to meet the budget deficit, and the country will also have more resources for the energy projects, infrastructure, road networks, health and education,” he underscored. He said that smuggling had become a big threat for the economic growth of Pakistan.  He said that not only trade & industry were losers to smuggling but the national exchequer was too. “Smuggling harms a national economy. It undermines the local industry, discourages legal imports and reduces the volume of revenues collected from duties and levies at the import stage and taxes collected at the retail stage,” Arshad explained.

The LCCI president urged the concerned authorities to stop harassing traders, and establish an effective monitoring system at borders to stop illegal trade of merchandise.

He said that goods smuggled through the borders with Afghanistan, Iran China, India formed a chunk of the informal economy.

Arshad said, “Smuggling is also encouraged by the large tax & duty rates; therefore there is a dire need to bring down the duties and taxes on smuggling-prone items.”

He suggested installing scanners and other modern equipments at the border checkposts in order to control cross border smuggling.