Budget FY22: Government proposes tax exemption for SEZ enterprises

Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin says government wants to make CPEC a platform for relocating industries

LAHORE: The federal government has proposed tax exemption for the upcoming fiscal year for businesses located in the special economic zones being created under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

According to a budget document, the proposal was put forth to facilitate businesses. It listed SEZs as one of the key priorities of the federal government in the financial year 2021-22.

Mentioning the progress and implementation of CPEC as a key priority, the government said that this, along with other items on the list, would help promote economic growth and generate employment opportunities in the country.

It also said that Pakistan has completed 17 mega projects under CPEC at a cost of $13 billion, while 21 projects costing $21 billion were currently under progress. The government also mentioned other “strategic” projects costing $28 billion, which it said were in the planning and implementation phase.

The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf presented the budget for its fourth year in power on Friday with a total outlay of Rs8.5 trillion as it aims for economic growth after three years of austerity measures.

Presenting the budget on the floor of the National Assembly on Friday, Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin said that the government was investing in SEZ while aiming to make CPEC a platform for relocating industries. He said that this would help increase Pakistan’s exports and generate jobs. Tarin added that besides this the government would expand its “earnest efforts” in promoting foreign direct investment in the country’s exports sector.

CPEC is said to be the flagship project of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and links Pakistan’s seaports to China through a network of highways and railways passing through all provinces and autonomous areas of the country. CPEC, however, is not limited to infrastructure projects, and many energy projects, including coal and hydel power plants, have been built under it.

Pakistan and China aim to build nine SEZs across the country to promote industrial cooperation and to increase economic outreach to markets in nearby regions.

On Thursday, Lieutenant General (r) Asim Saleem Bajwa, who heads the CPEC Authority, told businessmen in Islamabad that the government was currently gauging the feasibility of a SEZ in the federal capital to facilitate local businesses. Talking about budgetary allocation for CPEC during the next fiscal year, he said that Rs87 billion would be allocated for it, while the government was also looking forward to “increased Chinese investments”.

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