KARACHI - The former president of Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) Chaudhry Saeed Thursday said there was a pressing need for the diversification of the existing manufacturing sector and of agriculture products in Azad Kashmir, which he believed would boost the ailing economy. Saeed also stressed upon the need for supporting the long-neglected tourism sector in the valley. The former head stated this during a visit to Karachi Press Club.
While talking to journalists, he said that most of the manufacturing units in Azad Kashmir had almost shut down because of a higher cost of doing business owing in large part to expensive electricity and multiple taxes. The worst hit, in his opinion, were the textile, ghee producing and other such manufacturing units.
Saeed further iterated that tax authorities needed to review the current taxation framework with regards to businesses in Kashmir to forestall the closure of industries. The move, he hoped, would help create an investment-friendly environment in Azad Kashmir. Reiterating his demand for rationalisation of the taxation system, Saeed said that the per capita income was still high in Kashmir as there had been no tax evasion by the businessmen. He pointed out that power tariffs for Kashmir were also higher by nearly to Rs 8 per unit, which also needed a revisit and should be receded. He said Kashmir's agriculture sector had the potential to produce the world's class tea, only if the government were to embark upon an investment-friendly policy to attract foreign investors for farming. He said Kashmir could also grow international standard flowers but lamented that Pakistan did not have a significant share in the global trade of horticulture products, particularly flowers – a value that currently stands at $ 1.5 billion.
Saeed was concerned that Kashmir received Rs 9 billion during last year under the federal divisible pool against its due share of two percent. He said Rs 30 billion, as per mutual accord, should be given to Kashmir. He said the Kashmir's contribution in the country's dollar reserves stood at $ 2.6 billion of the total $ 13 billion through worker remittances. In reply to a journalist’s question he asserted that Kashmir could not attract foreign tourists to the beautiful valley because of the government’s policy which disallows the international visitors. However, local tourists should be encouraged to visit Kashmir which would help boost economy of the people. He cited the Indian example where around million of local Indian tour the occupied Kashmir every year, which allow the domestic businesses to grow. He pointed out that after the 9/11 incident, the tourists of Arab World thronged to far eastern countries despite the fact that Pakistan had greater tourism facilities and spots to enthrall the global visitors but failed to attract any of them.
About the Halal Food global trade, he said Pakistan again does not place its products on the global market while Thailand had a greater share with improved expertise to export products to the international consumers. The former FPCCI President who is also the Finance Secretary of Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) said his party has already set an economic plan on how to augment the national economy and enhance the productivity, if they come to power. He said the PML-N government will go for diversification of textile, rice, leather, agriculture products and other key existing manufacturing sectors to increase the national products present on the global market and earn huge foreign exchange.
He said his party government will ensure the provision of a better business environment for local and international investors to set up their units and businesses through incentives. Among others President KPC Tahir Hassan Khan and Treasurer Muhammad Rizwan Bhatti were present on the occasion. Seed also invited a delegation of KPC to visit Azad Kashmir.