KARACHI: The government would present the supplementary finance bill on January 23, 2019, which is aimed at investment facilitation and increasing ease of doing business rather than revenue generation, Finance Minister Asad Umar said on Saturday.
“The statutory regulatory order (SRO) regime has ended and any modification in the taxation regime can only be done through the act of parliament,” Asad Umar said speaking at Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI) said.
“Easing doing business is the priority of government and measures in this regard are being proposed through the finance bill. Things that can be introduced without the bill would start coming up by the end of month,” the minister said.
He said that in the last three decades, Pakistan’s economy had become consumption driven, which discouraged the culture of savings and investment. Resultantly, country had to import capital causing higher trade deficit. “Consumption shall not be incentivized, but investment shall be encouraged,” Umar categorically said.
Talking about regional trade, Asad Umar said economic diplomacy was at the heart of government’s foreign policy adding Pakistan wanted normal relationship with India as neighbors had in the world. “Army fully supports the government’s stance on having cordial relationship with India particularly trade and investment.”
The minister expressed hope that after their general elections, India would come to talks and progress could be made on all the issues including Kashmir.
About the industry’s refund claims, Asad Umar said the government was over-burdened with debts as around Rs3.0 trillion were outstanding including the circular debt and refund claims.
“We have framed a formula according to which one-third of the refund claims would be issued in cash during this year while government would issue negotiable instruments for the rest. These instruments could be discounted from banks; even these could be traded on the stock market”.
He further informed that with a view to facilitate industry, the involvement of ministries in approving the processing the refund claims was being eliminated, and only the central bank would deal with this issue.
He said the friendly countries had extended much support to the government in these times of crisis and added, “We have been talking about trade and investment also with the friendly countries. Saudi Energy Minister is in Pakistan, and he has expressed interest in making investments,” he informed.
To a question about IMF bailout package, Asad Umar briefly responded that government was still in talks with the donor agency.