LAHORE – Finance Minister Makhdoom Hashim Jawan Bakht has said that focus of provincial budget 2019-20 would be human development, promotion of trade, industry, agriculture and social sectors. “Punjab budget will be balanced despite economic hardships”, he said while addressing a ceremony at Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry. LCCI President Almas Hyder, Senior Vice President Khawaja Shahzad Nasir and Vice President Faheem-ur-Rehman Saigal also spoke on the occasion. Former SVP Khawaja Khawar Rahseed, former VP Zeshan Khalil, EC members Naeem Hanif, Mian Zahid Javed, Khalid Usman and Dr Muhammad Arshad were also present.
The minister said that healthy labour force was a must for economic development. He said that special attention would be given to human resource development. He said that poverty alleviation program “Ehsaas” for the welfare of the poor and downtrodden segments of society has already been launched. He said that absolute usage of Annual Development Fund would be ensured and its utilization during financial year 2019-20 would be highest. He said that technology in tax collection was being promoted to overcome various issues being faced by the taxpayers. He agreed with the LCCI President’s proposals of moving towards inspection free regime. “Suggestion has been moved for establishment of Punjab Smart Regulation Authority and good news would be given soon in this regard”, he said. He said that improvement in ease of doing business was one of the top priorities of the government. He said that industrial zoning would be finalized during the upcoming financial year. Almas Hyder said that slash in the ADP expenditure from Rs576 Billion (actual spending) in 2017-18 to Rs238 Billion (allocation) in Budget 2018-19 has negatively impacted the ongoing infrastructure projects and other development activities in the province. There should be a considerable increase in the size of ADP to stimulate economic activity in the province.
He said that One Tax Collection Authority for the collection of both federal and provincial taxes, frequency of tax payment and number of taxes should be reduced by clubbing. He said that government should re-zone areas in and around urban centres both for industrial and commercial use to help entrepreneurs invest in green field and other projects. He said that acquifer charges for domestic, industrial, commercial, non residential and corporate bodies should be reduced. He said that Punjab Revenue Authority was charging 16 per cent sales tax on services while Sindh Revenue Board was taking 13 per cent. Uniform rate of sales tax should be charged by all the provinces. He said that if the service provider was resident of Punjab and recipient was in Sindh, then both were required to pay sales tax on services in their respective provinces. To avoid this dual taxation, the revenue authorities of the provinces should agree on jurisdictions and common rules. He said that imposition of Punjab Infrastructure Development Cess (PIDC) at 0.90% has burdened existing taxpayers instead of broadening tax net. “It hampers the businesses of clearing agents and transportation companies that provide sizeable employment. It must be abolished”, he said.