Multiple Sales Tax Rates be Reduced to Single Digit to Curb Parallel Economy – Tariq Sayeed  

Mr. Tariq Sayeed, Founder and former President SAARC CCI and former President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) while apprising Dr. Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Federal Minister for Finance about the  aims and objectives of FPCCI's Proposals for the Federal Budget 2012-13 said that GDP growth should be increased at least 5%; relief and facilitation should be provided to the common man through the taxation system; investment should be attracted in the manufacturing sector through a Tax Amnesty Scheme and tax net should be broadened by identifying new taxpayers. The Finance Minister was accompanied by Mr. Mumtaz Haider Rizvi, Chairman FBR and other high ranking officers of the Federal Board of Revenue during his visit to FPCCI.
Highlighting the salient features of the proposals Sayeeed urged that multiple rates of sales tax be reduced to a single uniform rate of 9% to curb smuggling and reducing the size of the parallel economy. This will eliminate fake and flying invoicing and other mal-practices and the Government will generate more revenue, on one hand and give relief to common man on the hand, as indirect taxes are regressive in nature.
The meeting was chaired by Sheikh Shakil Ahmed Dhingra, Acting President-FPCCI. Also present as speakers at the event were former Presidents-FPCCI, Mr. S.M. Muneer and Mr. Iftikhar Ali Malik; and FPCCI Vice Presidents Mirza Abdur Rehman, Mr, Zubair Ali, Mr. Iqbal Dawood Pakwalla. The Secretary Finance, Mr. Abdul Wajid Rana, Mian Zahid Hussian, Mr. Zakaria Usman, Mr. Mansha Churra, Mr. Khalid Tawab, Shaikh Manzar Aalam, and Mr. Zubair Tufail also spoke on the occasion. The meeting was widely attended by businessmen throughout Pakistan.  
Sayeed started his presentation by giving all participants a review on the state of Pakistan's economy, which has been performing far behind regional countries. He mentioned some key recommendations that the Government should consider in order to achieve the above objectives. He suggested that there must be a focus on social development as the ranking of the country has slipped from 146 to 148 in the Human Development Index (the lowest in South Asia). The Government must devise proactive and long-term strategies instead of short-term policies in the following areas, namely: Concerted efforts of the Government are needed to facilitate economic diversification, and reduce the direct role of the public sector. In this regard, export-led diversification must be achieved through the state's role in making the private sector dominant in the economy. Documentation of the informal sector will lead to an increase in the tax-net. Implementation of the rule of law is crucial in all areas. The energy shortfall which has reached 6500MW must be removed on a war footing. The allocation of the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) should not be utilized for non-development purposes, as has happened in the past. Smuggling should be made unattractive by reducing the rate of duty on smuggle prone items. The institution of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Committees (ADRC) must be revitalized for seeking out-of-court settlement to tax disputes. Finally, the working of the Sub-Committees of the Business Persons Council constituted by the Finance Minister must be made more efficient.
While agreeing with many of the concerns raised by Mr. Tariq Sayeed and other participants, Dr. Shaikh said that those who are already paying taxes would not have to bear any additional taxes, and would get some relief in the Budget for 2012-13. He said that the upcoming Budget would be investment, employment, pro-poor and growth-oriented. He conceded that there was no bigger stakeholder in Pakistan's economy than the private sector, which must be supported by the Government. He assured the business community that industry-specific issues would be addressed by FBR in the forthcoming Budget.      

Malik Sohail Hussain
Chairman Media FPCCI,
VP National Traders Alliance
Former SVP, Islamabad Chamber,
Cell: 92-03335155300 and 92-03215155500
Alternate email
Phone: 92-51-2251891-3. Fax:  92-2251894

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22 May 2012

ISLAMABAD, 21 May 2012 (UN Information Centre) The United Nations General Assembly, by its resolution 55/201 of 20 December 2000, proclaimed 22 May as The International Day for Biological Diversity, to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. The date designated for the day was chosen to commemorate the adoption of the text of the Convention on 22 May 1992 by the Nairobi Final Act of the Conference for the Adoption of the Agreed Text of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Theme 2012: Marine Biodiversity

The UN Secretary-General issued the following message on this Day:

 "Oceans cover almost three-quarters of the surface area of the globe.  They are home to the largest animal known to have lived on the planet – the blue whale – as well as billions upon billions of the tiniest of microorganisms.  From sandy shores to the darkest depths of the sea, oceans and coasts support a rich tapestry of life on which human communities rely.  Fisheries provide more than 15 per cent of the global dietary intake of animal protein.  Oceans and coastal areas provide invaluable ecosystem services – from tourism to protection from storms.  Minuscule photosynthesizing plants called phytoplankton provide 50 per cent of all the oxygen on Earth.

Yet, despite its importance, marine biodiversity – the theme of this year's International Day for Biological Diversity – has not fared well at human hands.  Commercial over-exploitation of the world's fish stocks is severe.  Many species have been hunted to fractions of their original populations.  More than half of global fisheries are exhausted, and a further third are depleted.  Between 30 and 35 per cent of critical marine environments – such as seagrasses, mangroves and coral reefs – are estimated to have been destroyed.  Plastic debris continues to kill marine life, and pollution from land is creating areas of coastal waters that are almost devoid of oxygen.  Added to all of this, increased burning of fossil fuels is affecting the global climate, making the sea surface warmer, causing sea level to rise and increasing ocean acidity, with consequences we are only beginning to comprehend.

But, there is hope.  A scientific review conducted in 2011 showed that, despite all the damage inflicted on marine wildlife and habitats over the past centuries, between 10 and 50 per cent of populations and ecosystems have shown some recovery when human threats were reduced or removed.  However, compared to the land – where nearly 15 per cent of surface area is under some kind of protection – little more than 1 per cent of marine environments are protected.
Lately, some progress is being made, particularly with the establishment of large-scale marine reserves and documenting areas of ecological or biological significance in open-ocean and deep-sea habitats.  On this International Day for Biodiversity, as we look ahead to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June, we need to recommit to building on these advances. 

Rio+20 must galvanize action to improve the management and conservation of oceans through initiatives by the United Nations, governments and other partners to curb overfishing, expand marine protected areas and reduce ocean pollution and the impact of climate change.  By taking action at the national, regional and global levels, including enhancing international cooperation, we can achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Target of conserving 10 per cent of marine and coastal areas by 2020, a crucial step in protecting marine biodiversity for the future we want."