ED: M. M. ALAM
KARACHI: To mark the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Swiss Business Council (SBC) in Pakistan, the Consulate General of Switzerland here in collaboration with the SBC hosted an exclusive event at the Swiss Consul General’s residence.
Consul General and Patron of the SBC – Philippe Crevoisier addressing the ladies and gentlemen in the audience (consisting of diplomats, senior management of Swiss/other multinational companies, and leading businessmen) said that only if Pakistan was able to present to the international community the country’s on-ground realities and business potential, many more foreign investors would consider investing in Pakistani market.
Mentioning that Swiss-Pak bilateral trade (CHF 518.5 Million in 2017) was promisingly increasing for the past three years, the Consul General also commended SBC’s efforts to further improve commercial ties between the two friendly countries.
SBC President Farhat Ali, (who is also the Council’s founding President and Chairman of the Board and Executive Managing Director of Polygal N.V. in Pakistan) gave an overview of the Council’s achievements over the past decade most prominent of which is the Council’s partnership with Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE); equivalent of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan and Board of Investment.
Farhat Ali further added that SBC with support from S-GE is committed to link Swiss and Pakistani companies. “Thanks to our business network at home and in Switzerland, in the past two years six small and medium-sized enterprises from Switzerland have successfully entered the local market”, he further added.
The highlight of the event was keynote address by the Dean and Director of the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) Karachi – Dr. Farrukh Iqbal who presented his views on Pakistan’s macroeconomic matters in perspective of the challenges and opportunities for foreign investors.
Dr. Iqbal held: “Pakistan has performed below its growth potential for many years now. In particular, the private investment rate has been stuck at a low level of 10% of GDP for almost a quarter century now.
“This reflects a pessimism on the part of domestic investors that go beyond energy shortages and security conditions.
“Among factors to consider more deeply are the quantity and quality of education and health services available to the population to enable them to play a more productive role in the economy of the future.”
Swiss companies in the past ten years have invested CHF 1.5 Billion in Pakistan making Switzerland stand among top ten foreign director investors.
Major exports from Switzerland to Pakistan are pharmaceuticals, textile machines, and watches. Main Pakistani exports to Switzerland are textiles and agro-foods.
On the occasion, recognition certificates were also awarded to member companies who have completed 10 years with the Council.
Pakistan improves mechanism to handle AML/CFT issues
ISLAMABAD: The Finance Minister, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar said Friday that the Finance Ministry has improved institutional mechanisms for handling Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) issues.
Chairing a meeting here Friday in the wake of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Plenary meeting in Paris, the Minister expressed Pakistan’s strong resolve to keep up efforts on the counter financing of terrorism.
Foreign Minister, Abdullah Hussain Haroon and National Security Advisor Lt. General (retd) Nasser Khan Janjua, were also present on the occasion.
She added that the coordination between Central Bank, banking institutions, and law enforcement agencies have also been strengthened to curb money laundering and terror financing.
She invited participants to share their views and suggestions to further strengthen measures and put in place a strong implementation mechanism in this regard.
The participants while underscoring Pakistan’s resolve to further strengthen the AML/CFT regime emphasized and agreed on the formation of a high-level implementation committee to regularly oversee progress made by different agencies and departments engaged in the drive to counter financing of terrorism.
The meeting stressed inter-governmental cooperation as well as inter-agencies coordination for better results. The meeting was also briefed on the preparations by Pakistan’s delegation scheduled to attend FATF meeting at Paris.
Tax Amnesty Scheme receives good response
ISLAMABAD: Tax Amnesty Scheme was receiving encouraging results and its success would help to resolve the current account deficit and balance of payment issues.
This was stated by a spokesman of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Dr. Muhammad Iqbal on Friday while addressing a press conference here at FBR House. Muhammad Iqbal said the number of beneficiaries under tax amnesty scheme was increasing everyday.
He said under the scheme, the people could benefit by declaring their domestic and foreign assets as they would have to pay only a nominal tax under the scheme. To a question, the spokesman said the last date of the scheme was June 30 and he did not have any authority to extend the last date of the scheme.
Iqbal said keeping in view the benefits of tax amnesty scheme, the caretaker set up was also fully committed to ensuring the success of the scheme. He said government, as well as public representatives, were not eligible to take benefit from the scheme while people involved in different crimes were also not allowed to benefit from it.
Senate body discusses tax relief in FATA, Malakand
ISLAMABAD: Senate Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs on Friday discussed tax exemption for commercial enterprises in Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA), Provincially Administered Area (PATA) and Malakand Division.
The meeting of the committee was held here today under the chairmanship of Senator Farooq H. Naek and was attended by Senators Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh, Muhammad Akram, Mohsin Aziz, Dilawar Khan, Khanzada Khan, Aurangzeb Khan, senior officers from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Ministry of Finance.
Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi, Senator Fida Muhammad, and Senator Shamim Afridi were specially invited for their valuable input regarding issues that came under discussion with regards to the people of FATA, PATA and Malakand Division.
The meeting commenced with consideration of a point of public importance raised by Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi regarding utilization of Zakat Funds in the education and health sectors and details that revealed disbursement of those funds to FATA. However, the matter was deferred since secretary ministry of Finance was not present. The Committee took strict notice of this matter.
While discussing the issue of exemption to pensioners from filing tax returns on the public petition of Major (R) Ghulam Abbas, the Committee questioned Dr. Muhammad Iqbal, Member IR Policy FBR of the circumstances under which pensioners are taxed. He revealed that under FBR rules, pensioners are not taxed unless they possess taxable movable or immovable property; or if they accept other employment after retirement.
He further stated that the petitioner was not included in the tax list. Chairman Committee, expressed satisfaction and disposed off the petition; issuing directions for the petitioner to be informed of the decision.