By Shabbir Hussain
ISLAMABAD, July 28 (Diplomatic Star): President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry Muhammad Shakeel Munir, said that active participation of the business community, industrialists in legislation process is more imperative for balance trade policy.
He was of the view that due direct representation of the concerned community in the parliament or in the legislation process would help to address the issues related to businessmen and industrialists, terming it only way forward to establish healthy trade culture in the country and more essential for sustainable economic growth.
In an exclusive interview with Diplomatic Star, President ICCI said that the Industrialists were facing a myriad of challenges, ranging from legal barriers, tax, to lack of access to loans and financial know-how that prevent them from establishing a business.
In many developing countries, He said the focus is on to build capacity of businesses entrepreneurs, ecosystem intermediaries, as well as investors in order to increase the investments.
It is a pity, president ICCI said that the traders community of the country going through a mental agony after the recently new fixed tax law introduced by the FBR for the collection of sales tax with monthly electricity bills.
It has evoked great concerns in the small traders as it would force them to pay minimum sales tax of Rs.3000 even though their monthly electricity bill amount is less than Rs.1000.
He demanded of the government and urged that the FBR should revise the minimum slab of sales tax in consultation with the elected body ICCI to save the small traders from unnecessary tax burden.
Muhammad Shakeel Munir said that FBR was previously collecting sales tax in monthly electricity bills at the rate of 5% and 7.5% of the amount of bill, however, recently, the tax authority has decided to charge minimum tax on monthly electricity bills of retailers at Rs.3000 for monthly bill up to Rs.30,000, which is very discriminatory and will put extra tax burden on those small traders who are consuming less units of electricity bill.
President ICCI requested the Finance Minister and FBR Chairman to immediately intervene in this situation and engage ICCI into consultation to make the minimum tax proportional to the units of electricity bill so that it could be affordable for small traders.
They stressed that the Finance Minister should immediately hold a meeting with ICCI and other trade bodies to sort out this important issue with mutual consultation so that small traders should be saved from extra financial burden.
Replying to a question about country’s economic growth and role of ICCI, President Muhammad Shakeel Munir, said keeping in view the situation and problems of the traders community, he feared that the national economy was heading towards a crisis-like situation.
The economic stability is directly linked with the country’s political stability which means both are the most essential to achieve the goal of sustainable economic growth rate, he remarked.
Replying to a question how the public and stakeholders can be involved in policy and legislation, President ICCI said that through comprehensive dialogue, consultation with concerned quarters and seeking experts’ opinions on the matter.
He said that in the dialogue process one thing is quite important that is an equal participation of the members of industry, chambers, business community which would yield a better result regarding the formation of the policy and would help in its implementation at larger level.
He was of the view that the bureaucrats never know what the sufferings of a small businessman, what are the problem they are facing, only its true representation in the right forum would help to identify their problems and way forward to address them effectively.
Replying to another question regarding What if the implementation of the policy is done through the associations and public representations of the concerned stakeholders instead of the bureaucracy, President ICCI said that this would enhance the trust of the business community and would help to bridge the gap between government and trade associations.
President ICCI said that it would be a more suitable option where all the stake holder or representatives of the business community directly taking the ownership of the government trade policy and ultimately would be accountable in front of parent association.
Talking about the Tax collection and the government’s legislation on the matter he said that so far the government is doing great job in collection of Taxes by making proper legislation and introducing some innovative Tax policies to attract the business community maximum.
President suggested that there must be reward and acknowledgment policy for those who were depositing a huge number of tax every year in the national kitty.
He said that a reward can be an appreciation certificate or few sweet words in their favor that ultimately would encourage tax depositing trends in the country.
Replying to another question, he said that reforms are the only solution to introduce a positive and progressive change in the country that can be witness in our social system.
For, successful reforms and its implantation policy, he said that It should be based on reward and punishment trends which would not only ensure the working efficiency of our institutions but also help to maintain and promote the meritocracy culture in the country.
To another query about which method or process is right for public struggle and movement, he said that a comprehensive dialogue, lobbying’s and conducting seminars are the most sophisticated methods of public struggle for any cause and reason.