LCCI for energy, water-focused Budget 2016-17

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Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has expressed the hope that the Federal Budget 2016-17 will be business friendly and energy/water-focused.

In a joint statement issued on Tuesday, the chamber’s President Sheikh Muhammad Arshad, Senior Vice President Almas Hyder and Vice President Nasir Saeed said that in view of the growing energy demand and water scarcity, there is a dire need to allocate maximum funds for energy and water projects.

“Energy is the engine of growth while being an agrarian country. Availability of sufficient water is a must. Therefore, these two particular areas should be the top priority of the government in the budget,” they added.

They said that sufficient energy would not only give expansion to the industrial sector and generate millions of new jobs but would also double the exports. They urged the government to allocate adequate funds for Kalabagh Dam and Thar coal project.

The LCCI office-bearers said that the country’s reliance on costly thermal power was jacking up the cost of production as well as the import bill.

“The country needs an urgent transfer in its energy-mix in favour of hydel power and alternate energy resources.”

They suggested that the use of biogas should be promoted in the rural areas both for electricity generation and gas for cooking besides producing bio fertilizer.

They said that over 175 billion tonnes of Thar coal reserves are enough to provide 100,000 MW of electricity for 100 years. While the government is doing a lot on this front, the efforts need to be accelerated as the uninterrupted and affordable power supply can turn Pakistan into an economic powerhouse.

They also urged the decision makers to ensure better law and order in the country. The called for lowering tariffs on smuggling prone items, increasing the share of direct taxes in revenue and lowering the slab of indirect taxes in the upcoming budget to achieve key economic targets set for the year 2016-17.