Federal Minister for Railways, Azam Khan Swati on Monday said strong industry-academia linkages are crucial for providing jobs to graduates and internship opportunities to students to get hands-on experience in their respective fields. He was speaking at the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) held here with a view to facilitate the Ministry of Railways in hiring human resources from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) through Tech Valley Private Limited. The federal minister also emphasized the need to engage more young graduates in public sector organizations, which, he hoped, would bode well for the performance of government organizations. The minister said this MoU will prove as highly beneficial in terms of addressing the key issues being faced by the ministry through utilizing the expertise of researchers of NUST. The agreement was signed by NUST Pro-Rector Research Innovation and Commercialisation, Dr Rizwan Riaz; Advisor to Minister for Railways, Abdul Rasheed Khan; and Chief Executive Officer Tech Valley, Umar Farooq. As part of the agreement, Pakistan Railways and Tech Valley will offer jobs for NUST graduates, as and when vacancies are announced or created in the relevant departments, besides playing their role in the conduct of NUST’s recruitment drives, job fairs, seminars, workshops, trainings, etcetera. The tripartite agreement also underlines close liaison amongst the organisations to undertake joint research projects and consultancies in future to help address key issues facing the ministry. Speaking on the occasion, NUST pro-rector highlighted that this is just a beginning of a long-term mutually beneficial cooperation between the organisations as NUST has a lot to offer to the partnering organisations through its technical expertise, state-of-the-art infrastructure and, most of all, its highly capable faculty and students. Business community Chief Commissioner Inland Revenue Dr Khalid Mahmood Lodhi along with his team paid a visit to the Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) and addressed the issues faced by the business community. President Mohammad Nasir Mirza, Group leader Sohail Altaf, Senior Vice President Osman Ashraf, Vice President Shahraiz A Malik, members of the executive committee, and members were present on the occasion. Chief Commissioner Inland Revenue Dr. Khalid Mahmood Lodhi has said that taxpayers are the lifeline of the economy and FBR prime objective is to strengthen the partnership with the business community and address their concerns and problems through negotiations. COVID-19 has suppressed economic activity in the country and FBR acknowledged the business community role and have a great empathy and sympathy towards them. The Chief Commissioner welcomed RCCI budget proposals, including extension in integration of POS systems, tax audits, updating profiles for Active Tax Payers List (ATL), recovery notices and payments on installments. . He lauded the role of the Rawalpindi Chamber in promoting trade activities, resolving tax-related disputes and raising awareness on increasing the tax net and added that a help desk will be established at RCCI for the members and taxpayers facilitation. He informed that automation is being introduced in FBR so that there will be less involvement of FBR collectors with the taxpayers. E-hearing rooms are being established across the country and Rawalpindi will be taken as model office for E-hearings. FBR is providing all kinds of technical support for the installation of POS systems. ADRC and integrity management committee are being reactivated to facilitate general public/ taxpayers for filing complaints against corrupt practices of officers/officials of FBR. FBR is negotiating and in close contacts with Jewelers and traders related to Marble business to address their grievances. Earlier, RCCI President Mohammad Nasir Mirza, gave a short summary on RCCI current and future programs. He shared key concerns of the members and traders including extension in POS system, recovery notices and infructuous notices to tax-payers under section 176. RCCI President said that traders related to the Travel, Tour business/Hajj Umra, Schools, Wedding Halls has suffered very badly due to Corona Pandemic and sought relaxations for them. He suggested that sales tax rate should be brought to single digit and efforts should be made to increase new taxpayers rather than squeezing existing tax-payers. He also demanded that more incentives should be given to taxpayers and reforms must be introduced in the tax regime to help broadening the tax net and increasing the taxpayers’ number. Group leader Sohail Altaf in his address said that Chamber representatives should be given place in advisory board and Alternate Dispute Resolution Committee (ADRC) should be revived, he demanded. He also urged to build a strong relationship with FBR. Tax rate for POS should be brought to 5%, as this will help FBR to double its tax collections. Large Scale Manufacturing (LSM) growth is showing good improvement as we saw strong checks on under-invoicing, smuggling and restriction on imports. He also suggested fix tax regime for small traders. Chairman RCCI tax committee, Shahzad Malik, gave a detailed overview related to anomalies in the FBR tax system and proposed corrective measures in this regard.