Prime Minister Imran Khan visits Karachi to calm down agitated business community

KARACHI: Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Karachi on Wednesday and held series of meetings with the business community perturbed over the excessive taxation, rising cost of doing business and depreciating currency.

Talking to The News, business leaders said the PM was receptive to the issues and concerns of the community, but no decision was taken, as a number of meetings were lined up leaving the PM with very limited time for on spot settlement of their grievances.

However, PM and his team categorically refused to do away with the condition of providing CNIC’s copy on transactions of over Rs40,000. It was the primary demand of the business community.

Senior Vice President Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), Mirza Ikhtiar Baig said PM had assured that a mechanism as per the Bangladesh Model would soon be implemented to ensure speedy refunds to the exporters. “Moreover, the PM has agreed to my proposal that the taxpayers once audited would not be audited again for the next three years, and instructions were issued to Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Syed Shabbar Zaidi”.

Ikhtiar Baig criticized the central bank’s policy of increasing interest rates saying this would not contain inflation instead increase cost of doing business as was evident in the past experiences.

The meeting was also participated by Advisor on Finance Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Advisor on Trade and commerce Abdul Razzak Dawood, federal ministers, Chairman FBR Syed Shabbar Zaidi and Governor State Bank Reza Baqir.

PM informed the representatives of the business community that the subsidies and concessions had to go as government was focused on revenue mobilization and stabilizing external account.

President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Junaid Ismail Makda said the PM had assured that measures would be implemented to improve ease of doing business and rationalize cost of doing business.

“We reminded the PM of his promises he had made with the business community and pointed out that the policies were quite contrary to those promises,” Makda said adding PM was very receptive and assured to address the concerns.

Jawed Bilwani of value-added export sector gave a presentation at the meeting highlighting issues particularly the liquidity crunch faced by the exporters. “PM has invited us on Friday in Islamabad to deliberate further on the issues as no decision could be taken.”

The delegation of stock brokers and bankers expressed confidence in the economic policies of the government and presented certain recommendations to deal with prevailing issues.

“The PM’s body language is much better and he is receptive to the fact that the economy cannot run without taking along the businessmen and stakeholders,” Chief Commercial Officer JS Global Capital Khurram Schehzad said.

PM Imran Khan said previous governments had used the equity market for their own good, which deprived the market of stability and shattered investor confidence. PM informed the brokers and bankers that he would hold meetings with them on regular basis to obtain their valuable feedback.

Talking to the representatives of real estate, cement and steel sectors, PM Imran Khan said government was facilitating growth in construction and housing sector, as these sectors would generate significant job opportunities.

PM Imran Khan also held meetings with the delegations of agro food sector, pharmaceuticals, fishing and textile sectors and assured them redressal of their genuine concerns.

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