All Pakistan Chambers Presidents’ Conference (APCPC)

Introduction

With the onset of China Pakistan Economic Corridor, the regional dynamics have been changed. Many areas of Pakistan came on the international radar and numerous investment opportunities were generated. One such area of great geostrategic significance is Gwadar.  Gwadar is a port city and due to its growing significance under the ambit of CPEC, it has become more attractive to the business community.

Robert D. Kaplan described Gwadar as,

“A deep water port at the extreme southwestern tip of Pakistan, much more a part of the Middle East than of the Indian subcontinent, equipped with a highway, and oil and natural-gas pipelines, extending north all the way through some of the highest mountains in the world, the Karakorams, into China itself, where more roads and pipelines connect the flow of consumer goods and hydrocarbons to China’s burgeoning middle-class markets farther east. Another branch of this road-and-pipeline network would go north from Gwadar through a stabilized Afghanistan, and on into Iran and Central Asia. Gwadar, in this way, becomes the hub of a new Silk Road, both land and maritime; a gateway to landlocked, hydrocarbon-rich Central Asia; an exotic 21st-century place-name.”

In order to understand the ground realities, the requirements and interests of stakeholders in Gwadar, the management of RCCI felt a dire need to witness the progress of Gwadar and CPEC. Although it was a big challenge yet RCCI management decided to take the plunge and make it happen.  Choosing Gwadar as our destination for 10th APCPC-I gave a chance to the participants to witness the Industrial development in the port city of Gwadar.

With the onset of China Pakistan Economic Corridor, the regional dynamics have been changed. Many areas of Pakistan came on the international radar and numerous investment opportunities were generated. One such area of great geostrategic significance is Gwadar.  Gwadar is a port city and due to its growing significance under the ambit of CPEC, it has become more attractive to the business community.

Robert D. Kaplan described Gwadar as,

“A deep water port at the extreme southwestern tip of Pakistan, much more a part of the Middle East than of the Indian subcontinent, equipped with a highway, and oil and natural-gas pipelines, extending north all the way through some of the highest mountains in the world, the Karakorams, into China itself, where more roads and pipelines connect the flow of consumer goods and hydrocarbons to China’s burgeoning middle-class markets farther east. Another branch of this road-and-pipeline network would go north from Gwadar through a stabilized Afghanistan, and on into Iran and Central Asia. Gwadar, in this way, becomes the hub of a new Silk Road, both land and maritime; a gateway to landlocked, hydrocarbon-rich Central Asia; an exotic 21st-century place-name.”

In order to understand the ground realities, the requirements and interests of stakeholders in Gwadar, the management of RCCI felt a dire need to witness the progress of Gwadar and CPEC. Although it was a big challenge yet RCCI management decided to take the plunge and make it happen.  Choosing Gwadar as our destination for 10th APCPC-I gave a chance to the participants to witness the Industrial development in the port city of Gwadar.

Agenda Points 

The conference was a two-day event. The first day was dedicated to discuss the International agenda. While on the second day, domestic agenda points were discussed.

The conference was graced by the presence of state Minister of Finance, Rana Muhammad Afzal Khan, and National Security Advisor to Prime Minister, Lt. Gen Nasser Khan Janjua. On day one, the welcome address and speeches were delivered by the dignitaries after which the sessions on International Agenda were presented and discussed one by one which are as follows:

  • China Pakistan Economic Corridor and its benefits for Inter and Intra Regional Trade
  • Regional Trade Integration and Connectivity
  • Trade and Investment Opportunities in Gwadar in purview of CPEC

Second Day Agenda Points

  • Economic Performance of the Current Government
  • Foreign Borrowing, Circular Debt and Trade Deficit
  • Fiscal Budget 2018-19
  • Trade and Industrial Policy
  • Privatization of State-Owned Enterprises
  • Ease of Doing Business in Context of Prevailing System of Taxation

Declaration

CONSIDERING the importance of unity and cooperation between the Chambers for nation building in particular and furtherance the cause of all trade bodies in the country.

 

IDENTIFYING AND ANALYZING issues directly or indirectly confronted and identifying possible solutions for defining action by the Chambers and the Government of Pakistan with its Ministries/attached departments.

 

COMMITTING to strengthen the business cult on grounds of liberalization and facilitation with a view to make Pakistan a better place for business.

 

SUPPORTING the new business ideas and joint initiatives as part of private public partnership.

 

At large the conference debated the issues, has intensity on International and National levels; the majors are as under:

 

  • China Pakistan Economic Corridor and its benefits on Inter and Intra Regional Trade
  • Trade and Investment Opportunities in Gwadar in purview of CPEC
  • To discuss the Economic Performance of the Current Government
  • Foreign Borrowing, Circular Debt and Trade Deficit
  • Fiscal Budget 2018-19
  • Trade and Industrial Policy
  • Privatization of State Owned Enterprises
  • Mandatory Membership of Chambers of Commerce and Industry for all Businesses
  • Ease of Doing Business in Context of Prevailing System of Taxation

 

  1. CHINA PAKISTAN ECONOMIC CORRIDOR

The house comprised of more than 40 chambers of Pakistan from Balochistan, Sindh, KPK, Punjab, Gilgit Baltistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and FATA, deliberated China Pakistan economic Corridor as a regular agenda during the discussions. The following points are thoroughly discussed and held approved to become the part of the declaration which are as follows:

  1. A separate CPEC cell may be constituted in all the Federal departments to facilitate the businessmen and foreign/domestic investors who intend to invest under CPEC regime. The departments include TDAP, SECP, BOI, MoC, State Bank of Pakistan, and MoI etc.
  2. Gwadar Investment and Facilitation board with a majority of members from private sector recommended by chambers with powers to get things done from other government departments, be constituted on priority. One window operation for the investors should be introduced to cater out the problems of the businessmen and facilitate the processes in an efficient manner under the proposed board.
  3. The Balochistan skill development council and the organization may be set up. Training institutes at Gwadar, Turbat, Khuzdar, Pasni and Chaghi should be established and the federal Government and other provincial governments should help them in this initiative.
  4. Gwadar region should be facilitated with efficient connectivity with other parts of the country which Includes air links, railways, marine and double sided roads to connect the surrounding cities. This will also encourage the domestic and international tourism in Gwadar.
  5. Special Economic Zones should be prioritized in the remote areas of Sindh, Punjab, KPK, Balochistan and AJK and there should preferably be a sizeable percentage of hiring local manpower into all the projects in that specific area.
  6. Trade with neighbouring country Iran should be facilitated and all the hurdles should be removed immediately. The forum demanded banking channels and other facilitation for financial transactions between both the countries should be resumed.
  7. A level playing field should be provided to all the investors irrespective of whether they are foreigners or domestic.
  8. There should be a department dedicated to provide the information regarding investment opportunities in the region. It is recommended that TDAP may open an office in Gwadar as soon as possible.
  9. Federal Government should give a briefing to all chambers of Pakistan about CPEC that may be an in-camera session.
  10. The foreign investors should transfer technology to the local market and the government should assure the mechanism.

 

  1. TAXATION
  2. The business community of Pakistan believes that the taxation system for small and medium sized business shall be fundamentally re-engineered and simplified with the concept of the “Pay as you go” in simplified categorized.
  3. Discretionary powers given to the commissioners in the last 4 years should be abolished as they are being misused. Article 40 B and 38 A should be abolished. There should be an exemption from audit for 4 years after the total audit and the exemption limit should be increased to 1 million and 1.2 million for women.
  4. The tax rate should be brought down to 15 percent and focus should be on the expansion of the tax net. Interprovincial sales tax adjustment should be facilitated while the rate of sales tax should be brought to one digit.
  5. The tax payer be given due respect and acknowledgement and incentives so that non-tax payers are tempted to get into the net.
  6. Withholding tax deduction on cash withdrawal of Taxpayers be abolished while it may continue for non-tax payers.
  7. Tax Amnesty Schemes should be abolished and in case is it is to apply, then it may not deal with the repeat cases. There should be proper legislation to avoid amnesty schemes designed to facilitate specific chunk of people. Those who have availed the facility should mandatory invest the money in the industry.
  8. Turnover Tax was changed from 50 million to 10 million, it should be reversed back to 50 million.
  9. Government of Pakistan (FBR) should recognize the tax payers of Azad Jammu & Kashmir and treat them as taxpayers of Pakistan.
  10. Tax base should be widened. Here the ratio of indirect and direct taxes is 70 to 30 percent, respectively however we recommend that direct taxation should become a greater part of tax revenue. Withholding tax should also be considered as an Indirect Taxation.

 

  1. EASE OF DOING BUSINESS
  2. The Government should announce and make aware the small and medium enterprises regarding their available facilities
  3. Government should eradicate the corrupt elements and develop a culture without harassment by the Government departments.
  4. The business community of Pakistan strongly believes that government is employing multiple regulators causing huge problems for the operations of the businesses in Pakistan namely Federal, Provincial and Municipal Taxation System. Food Regulatory Authority, Employees Old Age Benefit Institution Environmental Protection Agency, Quality Department etc. We strongly recommend the government to have one window operation for all types of regulations with a clear policy to work as a facilitator instead of regulators instantly.

 

  1. FISCAL BUDGET 2018-19
  2. Realizing the constitutional article 25-A, the Government should gradually invest more resources-5-7% of GDP- to provide universal quality education to all without any discrimination.
  3. The Government should invest in health care and reach up the 3-4% of GDP in next five years.
  4. Local labors should be provided opportunities for employment, training and up gradation, this is more sustainable in the long run, allows investors the credibility, legitimacy and acceptance in the districts
  5. Workplaces should be safe, respectful, & suitable according to the physical, emotional, religious, and biological needs, e.g. places of worship, child friendly spaces, ramps etc for wheelchair users, and fire safety exits are part of a Human Rights Agenda.
  6. Safeguarding policies, shall be in place to ensure that workers have opportunities to relay their concerns, suggestions, and complaints without having fear of retaliation, these help women workers to contribute more effectively in the economic growth.

 

  1. MISCELLANEOUS DECLARATION POINTS
  2. All the foreigners having a valid visa of Pakistan should be allowed to visit Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Gwadar without acquiring additional NOC in order to enhance people to people connection and encourage tourism in the region.

House appreciated the services of Armed Forces of Pakistan and bringing in the peace in the country especially in Balochistan. The house congratulated Chairman Senate on being elected as Chairman.

Follow-Up Mechanism for APCPC

Soon after the conference is over, RCCI formulates a Working Committee. The rationale of this committee is to take follow up actions and report the developments. The committee organizes meetings with Government officials and functionaries. Various chambers of commerce across the cities will also be involved in the whole process that includes a sequel of mini-conferences and meetings. The following steps are taken by this committee to further the process:

  • Meeting with Government Officials
  • Meetings with Management and Business Community of Major Chambers across the country
  • Pre-Budget Seminar
  • Correspondence with Government Functionaries
  • Post Budget Seminar
  • Evaluation of Development of Agenda Points
  • Compilation, Circulation, and Analysis of Report
  • The launch of Follow up Report

Pictures of the Event

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