MULTAN-The Multan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) has asked the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Finance Ministry to offer relief to the business and trading community as well as industries in the upcoming federal budget 2019-20.

MCCI President M Sarfraz said in a media statement on Friday that government must introduce an amnesty scheme for filers and taxpayers similar to the assets declaration scheme for the non-filers. At least, filers must be exempted from tax audits for the next two to three years, he suggested. The taxpayers are maintaining their documentations and being regular income tax filers must be given super relief in the budget, he added.

MCCI president said that the Chamber already had submitted a set of proposals with FBR for consideration and incorporation in the federal budget 2019-20, stating that these proposals would help increase economic activity, incentives for manufacturing and SMEs and widen the tax net thereby increasing the government revenue.

Key proposals in the category of income tax relate to broadening the tax base; it was suggested that discretionary powers of inland department should be restricted.

Government should take additional measures to incentivize exports and taking other measures to ease the cost of doing business and improving the overall regulatory regime to facilitate exporters, he added.

Tax holidays may be introduced for new business ventures for at least first five years from the date of incorporation for those taxpayers who incorporate their businesses as LLP/ Companies.

In case of small companies, the rate of income tax may be reduced from current 25% to 20%. Small companies should be exempted from being withholding agent to deduct taxes and file statements.

A single online integrated Sales Tax Returns filing procedure may be introduced for Federal and Provincial Sales Tax declaration instead of current separate filing requirements for federal and each province.

Corporate tax to be brought down to 25%, currently it stands at 31 %. Pakistan’s corporate tax rate is third highest in world. MCCI president suggested that there is a need to address the key issue of massive under-invoicing/dumping of imported product. Import value is fixed in consultation with industry.

Meanwhile, the MCCI president also demanded the government to introduce Improving Ease of Doing Business (EODB) index for encouraging foreign investments. “Good EODB ranking will attract foreign direct investment, domestic businesses, employment generation and increase revenues of the state”, he added.

Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has started to play a leading role in this regard and took a number of revolutionary measures. “Appointment of Shabbar Zaidi as Chairman FBR is a good move”, he said, adding, measures like barring FBR officials from conducting raids without approval and stoppage of bank account attachment would create business-friendly atmosphere in the country. He said that Pakistan can easily take hold of top position in ease of doing business if other departments follow the suit.

M.Sarfraz said that Pakistan has all resources to become an economic leader. Economic situation would be quite good once ease of doing business was improved in Pakistan. He said that importance of businesses could not be undermined for economic development as they provide jobs to the growing population, generate revenue and attract foreign investment to the country which not only provides employment but also brings new technologies.

Senior Vice President Khawaja Badar Munir and Vice President Muhammad Amjad Sheikh said that the MCCI has done a lot of work for ease of doing business. The MCCI started work on EODB in 2015 and brought this important factor to main streamline. They urged making collective efforts to become economically strong country.

They said that Pakistan holds 130th ranking in starting a business, 166th in dealing with construction permits, 167th in getting electricity, 161st in registering property, 112th in getting credit, 26th in protecting minority investors, 173rd in paying taxes, 142nd in trading across borders, 156th in enforcing contracts and 53rd in resolving insolvency.

They said that these were the most important indicators which reflect the economic health of any country besides ensuring smooth running of businesses.