The Pakistan Business Forum (PBF) Saturday suggested the government to take effective austerity measures in the public sectors and prepare the next federal budget in a way that encourages business activities in the country. PBF President Mian M Usman Zulfiqar stated this while sharing the budget proposals with the media here. Forum’s Vice Presidents Jahanara Wattoo, Chaudhry Ahmad Jawad and core committee members also accompanied him. Mian Usman stressed the need for establishing export warehouses at the borders to uplift trade with neighboring countries and incorporating the agriculture and service sectors into the tax net. In an effort to increase the GDP growth up to six per cent, the budget makers would have to broaden the tax base and reduce tax rates enabling Pakistani products to have a competitive edge in the global market, he added. “We want jobs creation by strengthening industry; broadening of tax base through lowering rate; and introducing viable policies to attract foreign investment,” he added. During the last three decades, he said, it was only thrice when Pakistan’s economy grew by more than five per cent i.e. during 2003-2006, 2016-2018 and 2021-22. The industrial production could be increased by realising the full potential of information technology, he said, citing that digital finance potential of Pakistan could be US$36 billion in next four years thus giving a seven per cent boost to GDP and generating four million new jobs. The PBF president was of the view that real fact was a lack of realisation as the world business patterns had changed and Pakistan had made no efforts to adjust to those realities. “If the country wants to have a higher growth rate, it would have to adopt new innovative ways in the post-pandemic world as is being done by other countries, which are expecting a fast V-shaped recovery. We need to bring our digital infrastructure at par with other fast developing countries, besides adopting new technologies and implementing e-government solutions,” he suggested. Similarly, the PBF recommended the government to abolish the Super Tax, which was imposed on companies earning more than Rs 150 million last year and the cement, steel, sugar, oil, gas, fertilizers, textiles, automobiles, tobacco, and other industries were among them. The PBF president also urged that general rate of Minimum Tax under Section 113 of ITO 2001 to be reduced from 1.25 per cent to 0.25 per cent. “Considering current economic turmoil and inflationary pressure on prices and cost, the minimum tax should be abolished at least for listed companies,” he mentioned. PBF Vice President Jahanara Wattoo proposed the economic managers to incentivise investors; simplify tax system and take solid step to reform the tax collection departments; and rationalise import tariff with other competing countries. Jahanara urged the government to take practical and concrete steps for the implementation of business-friendly policies, saying that high prices of utilities like electricity, gas and petroleum products were slowing down the wheel of economy. She added, there was a need to freeze the prices of those inputs for at least three years so that the economy could get required jumpstart.