Trade matter with India would be taken up after general elections there: Speaker NA

LAHORE: Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has said that fine tuning of trade with India would be done when the new government settles in after general elections there that are round the corner.

The NA Speaker was talking to a ten-member LCCI delegation headed by Acting President Mian Tariq Misbah on Thursday. The LCCI delegation comprised Executive Committee members Muhammad Haroon Arrora, Iftikhar Bashir Chaudhry, Jabbar Khalid, Nasib Ahmed Saifi, former LCCI President Mian Misbahur Rehman and former MNA Yasmin Rehman.

Sardar Ayaz Sadiq said that the government was fully aware of the NTBs that are impeding the entry of Pakistani products in India and the matter had been taken up with the Indian authorities many times with no meaningful progress therefore it has been decided to take up the matter with the new government.

While assuring of his full support on all business related issues, the NA Speaker asked the LCCI delegation to forward Budget Proposal to him so that they could be made part of the upcoming budget.

He said that the government was planning a number of new initiatives for the promotion of economic activities in the country and the business community would be taken on board as soon as a final decision to this regard is taken.

Sardar Ayaz Sadiq also discussed growth in the economy because of GSP Plus status and said that the private sector should spare no efforts for the implementation of all the conventions of the status.

At the hour-long meeting, took place at National Assembly Secretariat, both the sides pledged to supplement each other’s initiatives aimed at putting the economy back on rails through promotion of economic activities.

The LCCI Acting President Mian Tariq Misbah informed the National Assembly Speaker that the business community fully understands the worst economic conditions inherited by the government. When PML(N) government took over the charge, there were severe challenges faced by economy including power outages, low economic growth, circular debt, falling investment, huge fiscal deficits, inflation, unprecedented floods, terrorism and worst law & order situation.

He said that the business community was cognizant to the efforts of Prime Minister and the Chief Minister Punjab for bringing in much needed foreign investment.

The LCCI Acting President, however, stressed the need for some quick ways to manage the current scenario in the best interest of national economy. He said that there was a dire need to chalk out new investment friendly policies, in accordance with the requirements of the investors.

There is a need for reforms in local investment laws to place all investors on an equal footing. There must be increased flexibility in foreign-exchange transfers, and favourable reforms in fiscal policies.

Para Tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers are still a hindrance in the way to let the foreign firms invest in Pakistan. The government needs to revisit the Para Tariff and Non-Tariff related policies so that maximum amount of investment inflow can be made sure.

Privilege cards should be issued to potential (foreign) investors to facilitate them at entry points (airports etc), banks, and all other legislatives & facilitating departments. In addition to that Government should build up virtual portals for corporate registrations.

He said that the government should use the ongoing mega projects as a tool to attract further FDI inflow.

He said that there should be a proper plan to improve the law and order situation, minimize sectarian violence and provide better security arrangements to the investors.

Mian Tariq Misbah said that markup rate was among the highest in the world which increases the production and operation cost of business. The government through SBP should pay its role in bringing down the markup rate, making it comparable to other neighbouring countries in the region to create a competitive business environment in the country.

He said that the private sector must be provided opportunities to play a dynamic role to bring about revolutionary changes and foster the pace of regional integration which would help enhance investment. The representatives of private sector must be taken on board while chalking out business / trade related policies and for their implementation in real sense.

The LCCI Acting President also brought to the limelight the menace of smuggling and sought the government intervention curb this evil that was hitting the businesses hard. He suggested that customs duty on smuggling prone items should be curtailed to encourage legal imports.

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