No reversal of policy on real estate valuation, says FBR

From Our Correspondent

ISLAMABAD: Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) yesterday took strong exception to the news reports appeared in a section of the press, claiming that the downward revision of real estate valuation for some areas has partially reversed the policy decision taken in 2016.

The decision taken in 2016 was made for adoption of market value of real estate for the purposes of collection of Federal taxes.

The board in an official statement issued Friday, asserted that there was no deviation or reversal of the policy to revise the FBR rates in phases and make them equal to the market rate in a reasonable period.  The revision of rates in six cities was meant only to remove the anomalies in the existing valuation tables.

Thereafter, the FBR rates were fixed after consultation with the stake holders and the overall average of FBR rates were fixed at a certain percentage of the fair market value with the intention to take the FBR rates equal to the fair market value gradually over a reasonable period of time.

National Electricity Plan, New Energy Policy being finalised to determine electricity demand, supply: Leghari

From Our Correspondent

ISLAMABAD: Minister for Power Sardar Awais Ahmed Khan Leghari yesterday said that the National Electricity Plan and new Energy Policy was being finalised in collaboration with provinces aiming to help determining demand and supply of electricity and future sources of power generation.

Presiding over 113th meeting of Private Power and Infrastructure Board, the minister said the policy would play a major role in reducing tariff which would be based on International Competitive Bidding.

He said that all pending Letter of Intents (LOIs) issued to sponsors would accordingly be evaluated under this plan.

The sponsors should diligently pursue their projects for timely implementation while practice of granting extensions in accomplishing various milestones should be avoided so that the plan for capacity addition was not disturbed.

Minister of State Power Division, Ch. Abid Sher Ali, other senior federal and provincial government officers attended the meeting.

The Board approved execution of Implementation Agreement (IA) with the +660kV HVDC Matiari-Lahore Transmission Line Project, consequently allowing PPIB to execute the agreement for timely implementation of this project of national importance. Extension in Financial Close date of 1320 MW Imported Coal based Power Project at Hub was also approved without affecting the synchronization date of the first unit on December 31, 2018 and Required Commercial Operation Date on August 1, 2019.

The Board accorded approval for submission of ECC Summary for approval of IA and PPA for 1263 MW Trimmu RLNG based Power Project which is being implemented on fast track basis by the Government of Punjab.

The Minister and Board members expressed their satisfaction on the progress of ongoing projects being handled by PPIB and urged PPIB to keep abreast on the progress of said projects.

PIAF pleads for uniform gas rates

From Our Correspondent

LAHORE: Pakistan Industrial & Traders Associations Front (PIAF) has appreciated the government’s plan to reduce electricity tariff, urging the authorities to also provide gas at uniform rate across Pakistan to ensure affordable cost of doing business in the country.

PIAF chairman Irfan Iqbal Sheikh welcomed the commitment of the newly-appointed Adviser to PM for Finance, Revenue, and Economic Affairs Dr Miftah Ismail to cut power tariffs within next 10 days, stating that the government’s move will lower the cost of doing business. During a meeting with a delegation of industrialists Chairman PIAF Irfan Iqbal sheikh along with senior vice chairman Tanveer Ahmed Sufi and vice chairman Kh. Shahzeb Akram, argued that the high cost of doing business is hindering Pakistan in achieving its export target.He also demanded for a uniform gas tariff, since Punjab faces a higher rate than the one in Sindh.

The PIAF chairman expressed the hope that the government will keep an active vigilance on early completion of all energy projects in time and there will be 100% uninterrupted supply of gas and power to industries as early as possible. He lamented that the previous government did not facilitate the maintenance of old power plants which caused several system constraints inflicting heavy losses.

Govt determined to create business friendly environment: Haroon

From Our Correspondent

ISLAMABAD: Special Assistant to Prime Minster on Revenue, Haroon Akhtar Khan yesterday said the government believed in creating business friendly environment for all business community and wanted to address their genuine problems.

“We shall try to resolve the problem of sales tax on foam manufacturers in the upcoming budget and will take further steps to uplift this industry,” he said during a meeting with the delegation of All Pakistan Foam Manufacturers Association (Non-Exempted Group).

The group comprised Sheikh Usman Rashid (Ruby Foam), Sheikh Mohammad Ismail (Cannon Foam), Mian Umer Javaid (Joy Foam), Mehr Mohammad Saleem (Crown Foam), Mahommad Jadoon (United Foam) and others.

The delegation also congratulated Haroon Akhtar Khan on being elevated as federal minister on revenue by prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and briefed the minister about their problems and requested him to save industry from total collapse.

The minister said field formations would also be mobilized to curtail the problems in tax matters of foam manufacturers.

Member IR Policy Dr Mohammad Iqbal and Member Custom Mohammad Zahid Khokar and other FBR officials were also present in the meeting.

Govt to review matters for Pak-Afghan trade promotion

From Our Correspondent

ISLAMABAD: Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance, Dr. Miftah Ismail said yesterday that the government wanted to promote trade with Afghanistan and was ready to review the matter in consultation with all the stakeholders, with a view to find a solution, favourable for bilateral trade.

The advisor was talking to a joint delegation of Pak-Afghan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (PACCI) and All Pakistan Textile Processing Mills Association (APTPMA) led by Zubair Motiwala.

Miftah Ismail assured the APTPMA representatives of all possible support to resolve their problems.

He said that the issues were already under active consideration of the government and appropriate decisions would be taken soon.

The members of PACCI apprised the Adviser of the difficulties being faced due to regulatory duty on different types of fruit being imported from Afghanistan.

They requested for easing out the duty regime saying the gesture would have positive impact on overall bilateral trade.

Encouraging, facilitating investors govt’s foremost priority: PM

From Our Correspondent

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi yesterday said that  encouraging and facilitating local as well as foreign investors to take advantage of the huge existing business opportunities had remained foremost priority of the present government.

He further said that as a result of structured approach and ensuring continuity of economic policies by the present government, confidence of the business community had restored and economy had been put on a solid track to achieve sustainable growth.

The Prime Minister was talking to the Managing Committee of the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI), which called on him here at the Prime Minister’s Office.

Minister for Commerce Muhammad Pervaiz Malik, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister Ali Jahangir Siddiqui, and senior officials were present during the meeting. The Prime Minister said that the government was committed to take relevant stakeholders on-board in the policy formulation process as well as ensuring unimpeded implementation of those policies.

Fish demand increases with declining mercury

From Our Correspondent

ISLAMABAD: With the winter season on its peak, the demand and sale of fish witnessed manifold increase in the federal capital despite high prices of different varieties of fish, which is a good sources of protein intake.

Almost all fish-selling points, whether it is uncooked or fried are witnessing great rush of consumers especially after the sun set and late night.

A vendor said that the demand was doubled as compared to the other seasons of the year. Another vendor said that the demand for fish so much in the winter that it cannot be met with the Rawal Dam produce alone. Supplies also come from fish farms from across the country to twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Mobile fish vendors also can be seen roaming around on bicycles and hand pushed carts are common sights these days.

The vendors of fish said that the prices witnessed surge due to transportation being more costly and the breeding farms charging more.

The cooked fish restaurants also attracting a large number of people these days and fish are cooked with different ways to entertain customers.

Health experts are of the view that studies suggest that fish is great source of protein and it can be a cure for many diseases.They say people suffering from heart diseases ,high-blood pressure and diabetes should use white meat as part of their treatment.

Pak growth rate to reach average 5.9pc: WB Report

ISLAMABAD: The World Bank (WB), in its recent report, has predicted that Pakistan economic growth would reach at an average 5.9 percent a year over the medium term on the back of continued robust domestic consumption, rising investment, and a recovery in exports.

“In Pakistan, growth is forecast to pick up to 5.5 percent in FY2017/18, and reach at an average 5.9 percent a year over the medium term on the back of continued robust domestic consumption, rising investment, and a recovery in exports,” the report said.

In its January 2018 Global Economic Prospects, the bank projected that Pakistan’s GDP growth rate will be 5.5 per cent and 5.8pc for 2017-18 and 2018-19, respectively.

The report says that growth continued to accelerate in FY2016-17 (July-June) to 5.3 percent, somewhat below the government’s target of 5.7 percent as industrial sector growth was slower than expected.

Activity was strong in construction and services, and there was a recovery in agricultural production with a return of normal monsoon rains.

In the first half of FY2017-18, activity has continued to expand, driven by robust domestic demand supported by strong credit growth and investment projects related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Meanwhile, the bank in its report has predicted that the growth in South Asian region would accelerate to 6.9 percent in 2018 from an estimated 6.5 percent in 2017.  —Online

FBR offers to train NBP employees to file tax returns

ISLAMABAD: A team of Facilitation and Taxpayer Education (FATE) Wing of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) yesterday met the top leadership of National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) in Karachi as part of FBR’s taxpayers’ outreach programme.

The programme was started last year to create awareness and understanding of the advantages of filing of tax returns and extending FBR’s help and facilitation to employees of large organisations at their doorsteps for e-filing, according to FBR statement issued here.

The meeting was held between the FBR team led by Member FATE Ms Nausheen Javaid Amjad and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) President Saeed Ahmed, who was also assisted by Abdul Wahid Sethi, SEVP/CFO and Zahid Mahmood Chaudhry, SEVP and Chief, Human Resources Management Group.

The meeting was in continuation of the proactive steps taken by the FBR in recent months to apprise the large public and private sector organizations of the advantages of e-filing by their employees. The Member FBR told the NBP management that as per data available with the FBR, a considerable number of the employees of major banks were not filing Income Tax returns and sought help from NBP President and his team to motivate their employees to fulfill their national obligation by filing their tax returns.  —PPI

US company to invest in Pakistan in wake of CPEC

ISLAMABAD: A leading US based company has shown interest for investment in Pakistan in the wake of opportunities offered by the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

A high level eight-member delegation of the US based international company, WTTI, led by its Chairman, Dr. Robert Y.NI visited Intellectual Property Organization (IPO-Pakistan). Muhammad Irfan Tarar, Director General, IPO-Pakistan welcomed the delegation and briefed them about IPRs protection in Pakistan, said a press release issued by IPO yesterday.

Dr Robert said his company would like to invest in the fields of Mining, Information Technology, Robotics and Pharmaceuticals and use their expertise in these areas. He termed the meeting as a very important step towards establishing of business in Pakistan as their business would require safeguarding of IPRs. Tab Ballantyne, executive vice president of the company appreciated the business environment of Pakistan and stated that WTTI would like to take maximum benefit from this business-friendly environment.  —PPI