Karachi, Mian Zahid Hussain, Chairman of the National Business Group Pakistan, emphasized the need for economic expansion and tax system reforms to meet Pakistan's export targets. He expressed concerns that the continued increase in electricity and gas prices could significantly hinder export growth.
According to United Business Group, Hussain, who is also the President of the Pakistan Businessmen and Intellectuals Forum and All Karachi Industrial Alliance, and a former provincial minister, noted that Pakistan's economy currently stands at $350 billion with exports at $27.50 billion. To achieve a target of $100 billion in exports, he stressed the need to increase the size of the economy to one trillion dollars.
Hussain highlighted the importance of improving the tax system through reforms, stating that the current tax revenue needs to be increased by at least 100% and the tax-to-GDP ratio to at least 17%. This change is vital to reduce the country's dependence on borrowed money.
He pointed out the necessity to simplify the tax system, eliminate the concept of non-filers and unregistered businesses, and leverage technology to reduce interactions between taxpayers and tax collectors, which would help in reducing corruption and increasing taxpayer confidence.
Hussain also emphasized the need for reforms in the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), based on feedback from the business community. He argued that unless measures like eradicating smuggling and addressing under-invoicing, over-invoicing, and misdeclaration are taken, doing documented business in Pakistan will become increasingly difficult.
Additionally, Hussain called for the immediate sale of failed government institutions, reduction in the size of the government, and measures to stop electricity and gas theft. Reducing the cost of energy is essential for lowering the cost of doing business and ensuring the smooth functioning of the economy.
Highlighting the challenges in the energy sector, he noted the depleting reserves of gas pose a threat to the fertilizer industry and have already impacted the industrial sector due to higher gas prices. Hussain urged the encouragement of foreign oil and gas exploration companies to operate in Pakistan, which could help reduce the energy import bill and ensure continuous supply to the industry and agriculture sectors.