Punjab govt mulls to cut land conversion charges for industry, says Zafar

TFD Report

LAHORE: Provincial Secretary for Housing, Urban development & Public Health Engineering Zafar Nasrullah said that Punjab government is considering to reduce land conversion charges for industry.
He was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Friday. LCCI President Mian Tariq Misbah, Senior Vice President Nasir Hameed Khan and Vice President Tahir Manzoor Chaudhry also spoke on the occasion while Ahmad Aziz Tarrar, Director General, LDA, Syed Zahid Aziz, Managing Director, WASA and Jawad Ahmad Qureshi, Director General, PHA and LCCI EC Member were also present on the occasion.
The Secretary said that there is shortage of 11 to 12 millions housing units in Pakistan and about 5 millions are required in Punjab province. He said that government has already announced package for the construction sector. It is a best time for the business community to invest in this sector and earn huge profit.
He said that government is committed to serve the business community. All projects can be completed only with the help of the private sector. He said that public-private partnership is a key to success. He said that all provincial departments are available to serve the business community.
He added that a committee is already working for the revision of WASA water tariff for the industry and government wants to facilitate the business community to the maximum.
Speaking on the occasion, LCCI President Mian Tariq Misbah said that as per Government’s estimation, Pakistan is currently facing an overall housing backlog of 11-12 million housing units. The urban housing shortage is estimated to be around 4 million. Since the share of Punjab in most of the factors at national level is way more than other provinces, so, we can safely assume that there will be roughly 5 million housing units are required in Punjab.
He said that Naya Pakistan Housing Program which aims at completing an uphill task has given some hope to such people who can only dream to have their own house.
The LCCI President said that other than banks, the private sector has got important role to play in the success of Naya Pakistan Housing Program.
Government should introduce favourable policy so that Private Sector is fully supported and facilitated to take active participation in the plans undertaken for the home-deprived community of Punjab.
LCCI Senior Vice President Nasir Hameed Khan and Vice President Tahir Manzoor Chaudhry said that housing Sector cannot be developed according to the vision of Honourable Prime Minister without the adequate support of the Financial Institutions. The Housing Finance in Pakistan is even less than 1% of GDP while in the regional countries it is around 10%.
LCCI President Mian Tariq Misbah said that there is limited availability of land in the existing Industrial Estates in Lahore for setting up new projects. In this scenario, Lahore Development Authority (LDA) has recently approved the Land Use Rules 2020 in which the prescribed fee for conversion of land use is set at an extremely high rate of 20% of the commercial value of the total area of ownership.
He said that LCCI has always advocated for abolishing these conversion charges for existing industrial units as they add to the cost of doing business and dent the working capital. This hinders the growth of our industrial sector.
“For the facilitation of Businesses in these difficult times, in line with the vision of our Honorable Prime Minister, we would once again request your kind self to exempt all industries setup in and around Lahore before 30 December 2020 from conversion charges”, the LCCI President said and added that the new industries to be setup in future, outside the Industrial zones, may be asked to pay 5% of the DC rate for industrial land. This issue is gaining urgency as our members are very concerned.
Mian Tariq Misbah mentioned that the WASA water tariff for Industrial and Commercial users for extracting water through tube-wells is set at the rate of Rs.100,000 per month for 1 cusec which is considerably higher as compared to other cities in Punjab. It is worth mentioning that the water tariff in Faisalabad is Rs 13,000 per month for Textile Processing units and Rs 19,320 per month for general industry. The WASA water tariff for Lahore needs to be rationalized.
He said that during recent meeting with Vice Chairman WASA at LCCI, it was decided that the water level should be checked in industrial areas for setting the water tariff. If water level is more than 700 feet, then the tariff would remain the same. Otherwise if the water level is below 300 feet to 400 feet, the water tariff would be reviewed and considered as Industrial water not for drinking. We would request you to ensure implementation in this regard.
He lauded the cooperation extended by PHA to Lahore Chamber in carrying out the initiative of a hundred thousand trees in Lahore.
Nasir Hameed Khan and Tahir Manzoor Chaudhry said that LCCI has already established several important help desks of various Government Departments under one roof. The main motive of LCCI behind these initiatives is to serve our members and create Ease of Doing Business for them. They also sought the establishment of WASA and LDA helpdesks at LCCI.
Nasir Hameed Khan and Tahir Manzoor Chaudhry said that water charges should be reduced for the industry. He said that relief package are good measures but government would have to ensure their continuity. They said that industries associated to the construction industries should be facilitated and duties and taxes should be reduced on their raw materials. They also called for inspector-less regime.
DG LDA announced to setup a help desk at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry.

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