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Revenue Board working termed hurdle in attracting investment

ISLAMABAD (December 10 2003): Privatisation and Investment Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh on Tuesday conceded that Central Board of Revenue (CBR) working was cumbersome and a big hurdle in attracting investment, but added that difficulties and bottlenecks were being removed on top priority to facilitate the investors.

He told the participants of the conference on 'Investing in Pakistan' held here that Central Board of Revenue (CBR) was being restructured through major reforms to make its working easy and comfortable for taxpayers.

He added that things were moving in the right direction and investors themselves would feel a difference.

Several participants had reminded the government economic managers team, headed by Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, during question/answer session that CBR's working was cumbersome and instead of facilitating the investors it discourages them.

One questioner referred to a case of delay of over one-and-a-half year in release of machinery.

Hafeez assured the questioner that his case would be looked into and relief would be provided.

The Privatisation Minister said that the government was following a pro-investment policy, which offers attractive opportunities for investing in Pakistan.

He said that the economic indicators showed positive trend and efforts were being made to bring in quality players from private sector.

He told the participants that over 600 multinational companies were operating in Pakistan and new collaborations were in the making.

Hafeez told another questioner that all Cabinet members and respective officials were accessible to the investors to sort out their problems round the clock.

He termed the government privatisation programme as a big success which, according to him, was gaining momentum.

The minister said that some major transactions, such as Habib Bank, Pakistan State Oil, Faisalabad Electric Supply Company (Fesco), and Jamshoro Power Company (JPC) were coming on the privatisation list.

Minster for Industries and Production Liaqat Jatoi said that Pakistan was offering unprecedented investment opportunities to investors–with tax concessions, easy access to the growing markets in the Middle East and Central Asian States.

He added that Pakistan's industrial production has increased by 10.2 percent; tax collection raised by 12.8 percent; and growth in exports stood at 21.7 percent in 2002-03.

He said that the areas with promising potential for investment include oil and gas, information technology, telecom, infrastructure, engineering and power generation.

He said the government offers exemption in various sectors, rationalisation of tariff, reduction in cost of doing businesses, and encouraging growth rate in automobile. Steel and other sectors were among the major advantageous for the investors.

SBP Governor Dr Ishrat Hussain said that Pakistan is now linked with the international financial market “and we had allowed opening of branches in Pakistan” by quality foreign banks and financial institutions, which would bring human resources and transfer of technologies.

He said that there was need to bridge the huge gap between the perception and reality on the ground by making self-assessment by investors.

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