The Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry has given a mixed reaction on the Federal Budget 2018-19 and called for rectification of the implications and reservations of the business community by the National Assembly where budget document will be presented for debate and approval.
While addressing a press conference after Federal Budget Speech 2018-19, the LCCI President Malik Tahir Javaid, flanked by Senior Vice President Khawaja Khawar Rashid and Vice President Zeshan Khalil, said that some good announcements including limit enhancement for income tax exemption, removal of Regulatory Duty on important raw materials, increase in development budget, allocations for agriculture & livestock sectors and increase in pensions etc. have been made in the budget while there are also some questionable lacunas that must be tackled by the National Assembly. Former office-bearers and LCCI Executive Committee members were also present on the occasion.
Malik Tahir Javaid said increase in allocations for water and power projects would help get rid of energy crisis. Funds for infrastructure development would also attract foreign investment. He said that increase in defence budget was need of the hour as country is facing security challenges. He also welcomed announcement for refunds, agriculture support fund and composite audit.
The LCCI President said that as usual Federal Budget is of deficit and it has not mentioned that how this would be handled. He feared that government would opt borrowing that would aggravate the economic conditions. He said that huge amount of over Rs.1600 billion has already been allocated for debt servicing in the Federal Budget 2018-19 while further borrowing would be ringing alarming bells.
He said that borrowing should not be the part of government policy to overcome the budget deficit. He said that one of the best ways to reduce the budget deficit is to promote economic growth. He said that high economic growth is the finest way to reduce the budget deficit because it would also enhance the government revenues.
Malik Tahir Javaid said that removal of withholding tax on banking transactions was the longstanding demand of the business community but government has ignored this issue and decided to continue that would cause trust deficit and hamper the expansion of tax net.
“Unfortunately Kalabagh dam is not part of the Federal Budget 2018-19 which means country would not have a new big reservoir in near future and all sectors whether it is agriculture or manufacturing sector would be suffering due to water scarcity and cheap electricity”, the LCCI President added.
He said that still time is available and ball is in the court of National Assembly that can make budget document a complete economic revival plan by removing harsh measures for trade and industry.