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SBP asked to provide easy loans to small businesses

Karachi: Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Small Traders Committee Chairman Abdul Majeed Memon recently petitioned the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) to provide wage support to small businesses under its wage relief program at zero interest rate; in an attempt to mitigate the wide-ranging fears regarding the cottage industries being unable to pay their due interest amounts — a news source reported.

Read: Govt to launch a website for receiving corona relief donations from overseas Pakistanis

The chairman stated that the commercial banks were reluctant to provide loans to small businesses even though they were the ones who needed assistance the most.

Memon felt that the primary way in which the central bank could support small businesses was by providing loans to them on easy conditions and minimal interest rates.

Read: Punjab approves direct aid for the needy under Ramzan relief package

Pakistan Association of Automotive Parts and Accessories Manufacturers (Paapam) former chairman Mashhood Ali Khan recommended that the State Bank should draft a separate policy for small and micro enterprises so that they can be assisted effectively in keeping their businesses operational, and their workforce intact.

Punjab approves direct aid for the needy under Ramzan relief package

Lahore: Chief Minister (CM) Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar recently provided his in-principle approval for financial aid to be provided directly to deserving families struggling in the wake of the coronavirus lockdown during the upcoming holy month of Ramzan, according to news sources.

Read: Construction Sector Relief Package Ordinance approved

The CM made this decision in a meeting held at his office to review the relief arrangements to be offered under the Ramzan relief package. During the session, the attendees further elected to forgo setting-up ‘Ramzan Bazaars’ this year, in light of the difficult circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read: Govt to launch a website for receiving corona relief donations from overseas Pakistanis

The CM reiterated that the government wished to offer relief to the maximum number of people and that the necessary procedures in this regard would be devised soon.

In addition to the above, CM Buzdar has also announced his decision to provide an additional one-month salary to the medical staff and doctors who are treating coronavirus patients.

Construction Sector Relief Package Ordinance approved

Islamabad: The Federal Cabinet on Friday approved amendments to the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001 for immediate implementation of its recently announced Construction Sector Relief Package, according to news sources.

Under this ordinance, the construction sector, as well as its related businesses, industries and investors, are expected to reap the following benefits:

FIXED TAX REGIME

  • Fixed tax to be implemented on ‘per square yard’ and ‘per square feet’ bases on real estate projects,
  • Withholding tax waived off on building materials – except cement and steel,
  • Builders and developers to receive 10 times more profit-credit with respect to the taxes they pay,
  • Tax percentage on low-cost projects initiated under the Naya Pakistan Housing Programme (NPHP) to be dropped by 90%,
  • Offered tax cuts and relief provisions to be applicable on projects registered under the relief package and launched before December 31, 2020, as well as those currently underway; with the further criteria:
    • Builders are required to get their new and current projects registered with the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) via its IRIS portal,
    • Builders are required to inform the authorities regarding their project completions’ status; along with being bound to pay taxes as per the new regime for any pending development work.
  • The dividends issued by the companies concerned to their shareholders are to be exempted from these taxes.

EXEMPTION ON DECLARING SOURCE(S) OF INCOME

Section 111 of the Income Tax Ordinance (concerned with declaring the sources of income) will not be applicable on investments made in the sector; to be further determined by investors’ adherence to the following criteria:

  • Cash investments stacked in a new bank account before December 31, 2020
  • In case of investment in form of land, the said property has to be registered in the owners’ name prior to introduction of this ordinance

ONE-TIME EXEMPTION ON CAPITAL GAIN TAX

The relief package waives the imposition of Capital Gain Tax (Tax) on the sale of personal property if:

  • The house is smaller than 500 square yards,
  • The flat (in the other case) area is under 4,000 square feet

ADVANCE TAX ON PROPERTY

  • The Advance Tax on property sales has been reduced to 5% from the previous 10%.

CONSTRUCTION SECTOR GIVEN ‘INDUSTRY’ STATUS

  • With the construction sector’s new ‘Industry’ status affixation, the government will offer sector stakeholders the same facilities it extends to the parties concerned hailing from other industries – narrowly, on the import of machinery required for carrying out construction and development work.

AMENDMENT IN SALES TAX RULES

  • Following the model introduced by the Punjab government, the Federal Government has cancelled the Sales Tax due on construction services.

CVT AND STAMP DUTY APPLICABILITY IN THE FEDERAL CAPITAL

  • The same rules notified by the Governments of Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa for the collection of CVT and Stamp Duty will now be applicable in Islamabad.

WHO CANNOT AVAIL THESE OFFERED CONSTRUCTION SECTOR ‘RELIEF’ PROVISIONS?

  • Public office holders, their spouse and dependents,
  • Listed public companies and real estate investment trusts,
  • Parties deploying and in possession of income earned through illegal means such as money laundering, extortion and terror financing.

Govt to launch a website for receiving corona relief donations from overseas Pakistanis

Islamabad: The government has announced its decision to launch a website for facilitating overseas Pakistanis in making donations to the Prime Minister (PM)’s Corona Relief Fund, a news source reported.

ReadCorona Relief Fund: Overseas Pakistanis donate PKR 45 mn

To this effect, the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis & Human Resource Development (OP&HRD) revealed that it would soon set up covid.ophrd.gov.pk to help overseas Pakistanis in making donations to the fund.

An official of the OP&HRD ministry said that the website would consist of an additional feature to allow affluent individuals from around the globe to take the responsibility of providing rations to the needy amidst the going pandemic. He added that the government would also recruit overseas Pakistanis in the Corona Relief Tiger Force (CRTF).

ReadCOVID-19 Relief: Govt to reopen low-risk industries, extend the ban on public gatherings

PM Imran Khan recently appealed to the overseas Pakistanis to make generous donations to the executive’s Corona Relief Fund. He stated that the nation would overcome the challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic through joint efforts.

Corona Relief Fund: Overseas Pakistanis donate PKR 45 mn

Islamabad: In the wake of Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan’s public appeal, overseas Pakistanis have donated PKR 45 million to the PM’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, a news source reported. As per the publication, Special Assistant to PM on Overseas Pakistanis & Human Resource Development (OPHRD) Sayed Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari on Tuesday stated that 900 expatriates donated these funds using the OPHRD ministry’s web portal.

ReadConstruction Industry Relief Package: Tax slabs under 3 categories explained

Bukhari stated that since the website’s launch, overseas Pakistanis from 45 countries had donated to the PM’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. He added that most of these individuals were from the UK and the US. He also revealed that a large number of expatriates had also taken the responsibility of providing rations to 2,400 families during the last 24 hours.

The Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis & Human Resource Development (OP&HRD) had launched a web portal on April 13 to specifically facilitate the expatriates for contributing to the PM’s COVID-19 Relief Fund.

ReadNotification on Stamp duty, CVT awaited for the resumption of property transfers in Rawalpindi

The PM’s special assistant also announced the formation of an overseas tiger force. This force would provide rations to overseas Pakistanis stranded abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Construction Industry Relief Package: Tax slabs under 3 categories explained

Islamabad: The government has prepared the draft for the Tax Laws (Amendment) Ordinance 2020 — under which all parts of the country have been categorized under three tax slab categories, according to news sources. As per the publication, President Alvi is expected to promulgate this ordinance shortly and with immediate effect; with the above tax distribution having been planned in a bid to offer tax benefits and support to the construction sector.

Read: Notification on Stamp duty, CVT awaited for the resumption of property transfers in Rawalpindi

Under the amended ordinance, the Category-I includes three major metropolitans; Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad; the Category-II includes Abbottabad, Faisalabad, Gujranwala, Hyderabad, Multan, Mardan, Peshawar, Rawalpindi, Sahiwal, Sukkur, and Quetta; while the Category-III encompasses the remaining urban centers in the country.  

What is the fixed tax rate for properties in Category-I cities (Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad)?

For Category-I, the fixed tax rate for commercial, residential (apartments) and industrial buildings and plots have been finalized at PKR 250 per sq ft (maximum), while the rates for Category-III are PKR 50 per sq ft (minimum).

Read: COVID-19 Relief: Govt to reopen low-risk industries, extend the ban on public gatherings

The new ordinance will benefit builders and developers from the first day of its promulgation; however, they will be bound to launch construction work on their projects by December 31 and complete them by September 30, 2022. The builders and developers are further required to get registered under the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), and they also won’t be allowed to change the names of shareholders and builders without the commission’s approval once registered.

Additionally, the new Pakistan Housing and Development Authority will also be constituted under the new ordinance, and the Finance Act 1989 and the Income Tax Ordinance 2001 is expected to be amended further as a result.

Notification on Stamp duty, CVT awaited for the resumption of property transfers in Rawalpindi

Rawalpindi: Real estate stakeholders within the city currently await the official notification regarding a reduction in Capital Value Tax (CVT) and Stamp Duty rates recently announced by the Punjab government as a part of its incentives package to facilitate the construction industry – because of which property transfers have mostly been put on hold in Rawalpindi and other provincial urban centers, a news source reported.

Read: Pakistan receives 2mn tonnes of medical supplies from China

The government had announced a reduction of CVT and Stamp Duty down from 6% to 2%. The idea is to allow the businesses to recover rapidly in the wake of the economic slowdown caused by the lockdown measures. However, according to the realtors, the registration offices have also been closed due to the lockdown which has meant that property transfers are not being registered.

Read: COVID-19 Relief: Govt to reopen low-risk industries, extend the ban on public gatherings

The real estate stakeholders have called for an immediate opening of the transfer registration offices and the issuance of notification so that the realtors could fully benefit from the announcements.

COVID-19 Relief: Govt to reopen low-risk industries, extend the ban on public gatherings

Islamabad: Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan, while addressing the nation on Tuesday (April 14), announced a two-week extension to the ongoing countrywide lockdown; in addition to allowing for the reopening of several ‘low-risk’ industries, according to news sources. The ban on public assemblies and educational institutes, however, will remain in effect for the time being.

Read: Pakistan receives 2mn tonnes of medical supplies from China

He expressed gratitude for the nation for respecting the restrictions ensured by the lockdown and added that the prevailing coronavirus spread is 30% of the estimated number of cases.

However, he went on to say that people shouldn’t ignore the risk and continue expressing extreme caution. Khan further revealed that the government will announce an incentive (stimulus) package for the construction industry to be promulgated through ordinance today. He called it ‘the greatest incentive package of its kind in Pakistan’s history’.

Regarding the opening of the construction sector, the premiere quoted Moody’s research that declares construction as one of the low-risk and high paying sector. Khan said there is a 98% consensus on which industries are to open however, he added, the provinces have their rights to further delay or resume industries based on their ground realities.

Read: Education Ministry to air ‘TeleSchool’ education channel broadcast from today

Federal Minister of Industries and Production Hammad Azahar announced a list of low-risk industries that are to resume under the international standards of World Health Organisation (WHO)-endorsed coronavirus prevention Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). The minister said that supply chains have remained operational for industries producing daily essentials like fuel, banking, relief, agriculture, pharma. Ongoing developing situation to be reviewed accordingly.

The industries, identified as low-risk, allowed to reopen are as follows:

  • Chemical manufacturing
  • E-commerce for export, e-commerce for local delivers of essentials
  • Software and programming firms
  • Paper, stationery, and packaging industries
  • Firms that operate with on-premise laborer
  • Cement industry
  • Fertilizer industry
  • Mines and minerals
  • Laundry and dry cleaners
  • Nurseries (Horticulture)
  • Agricultural equipment manufacturing industries
  • Glass manufacturing
  • Veterinary
  • Book shops, stationeries
  • All export industries – subjected to confirmation of order from the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP)

Azhar further said that the government will resume the construction sector in phases – at the initial level, the industries being reopened include brick kilns, stone crushers, pre-fabrication materials preparing units.

Read: Dual nationals permanently residing in the country are not ‘Overseas Pakistanis’: LHC

Meanwhile, Sindh Chief Minister (CM) Syed Murad Ali Shah, while commenting on the province’s ongoing lockdown situation (further extended till April 30) during a press briefing today, provided a tentative assessment that the construction work within the province will probably only be allowed till the gray structure finalization stage.

Pakistan receives 2mn tonnes of medical supplies from China

Islamabad: The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) on Saturday notified its receipt of two million tonnes of medical supplies from China, a news source reported.

Read: US-based Pakistanis set up ‘Karachites’ relief organization to help hard-hit families

As per the publication, a special PIA plane fetched the supplies to help Pakistan combat the COVID-19 infection. The medical supplies included 15 ventilators, 132,000 masks, 200 forehead thermometers, 11,000 protective clothes, and 21,000 COVID-19 detection kits.

Read: Education Ministry to air ‘TeleSchool’ education channel broadcast from today

Last week, the Meteorological Construction Corporation (MCC)of China dispatched medical supplies weighing over 11,000 pounds to Quetta – brought by a C-130 aircraft of the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and included N95 masks, testing kits, medicines, and safety kits.

Read: Dual nationals permanently residing in the country are not ‘Overseas Pakistanis’: LHC

Previously, five plans brought medical supplies to Pakistan from China with the last plane landing in Pakistan on March 29. A team of Chinese doctors also visited the country to collaborate with local health experts against coronavirus outbreak.

Education Ministry to air ‘TeleSchool’ education channel broadcast from today

Islamabad: The Ministry of Education is expected to start the broadcast of national education channel ‘TeleSchool’ from today (April 13) onward, a news source reported. According to a statement issued by the ministry on Sunday, Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan will officially launch the initiative.

ReadDual nationals permanently residing in the country are not ‘Overseas Pakistanis’: LHC

The TeleSchool education channel will be broadcasted using a beam provided by the Pakistan Television (PTV), the statement added. The aim of initiating this channel is to mitigate any impact on the academic progress of young people during the summer vacation announced til May 31 due to the coronavirus outbreak. The channel will ensure that learning among students continues.

The Education Ministry has designed the TeleSchool channel to broadcast carefully developed content from classes one to twelve from 8 am to 6 pm daily. The developed content aligns with the students’ learning objectives for the major subjects within the curriculum prevalent in the country.

Officials from the Federal Directorate of Education (FDE) and a few educational digital content development platforms have sequenced the developed content and provided support on a pro bono basis.

Read: US-based Pakistanis set up ‘Karachites’ relief organization to help hard-hit families

To ensure that 95% of the country’s population can access the TeleSchool education channel, it will be available on satellite, terrestrial, and cable networks.

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