LAHORE: Federal Secretary Commerce Qasim M. Niaz said that the present government is taking all possible measures to get hold of challenges being faced by the business community and the economy would soon be back on rails.
He was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry recently. The Federal Secretary said that the government strongly believes in consultation with private sector so this concept is being implemented in letter and spirit.
About 3-year strategic policy frame work, the Federal Secretary said that a detailed implementation plan is being evolved to make it result-oriented. He said that short-term and medium-term plans are being evolved to overcome economic issues.
He admitted that the working of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) is beyond satisfaction and government is giving it a fresh look at it to achieve export target.
Federal Secretary said that smuggling is a great challenge and it is being tackled with same amount of vigor and force.
To a question about GSP Plus Status to Pakistan, the Federal Secretary expressed optimism and said that the things are moving in right direction.
Speaking on the occasion, LCCI former President Farooq Iftikhar said that Pakistan should actively enter into Free Trade Agreements and Preferential Trade Agreements with countries where it has a clear and mutual comparative competitive advantage.
He proposed the creation of country-level and regional FTA/PTA Advisory Councils involving the representatives of private sector and officials of the Ministry of Commerce for exploring all avenues to benefit from such agreements.
The LCCI former President said that currently smuggling is at its peak. Markets are flooded with smuggled items covering all sectors and products causing loss of billion of rupees to the national exchequer.
He said that that using latest techniques like tracking of containers at highways entry and exist points will help collect billion of rupees as customs duty and other taxes as compared to appointing monitoring staff at factories and manufacturing concerns.
He proposed that customs duty on smuggling prone items may be reduced so that the legal import becomes competitive. It will in fact increase government revenues.
He said that the smuggling prone items may be identified in consultation with trade and industry. He said that massive smuggling of plastic raw-material is going on from Iran as a result of which imports are shrinking and the honest taxpayers are finding it difficult to import/purchase tax paid raw-materials because smuggled raw-material is available on a lower price. The rate of duty on plastics is proposed to be reduced to 5%.
He said that Imports against TT are increasing due to massive misuse of the facility. It is proposed that imports against TT may be discouraged and appropriate legal framework for this purpose may be introduced. Further, import of unnecessary times/luxury items e.g. vehicles may be discouraged instead of allowing amnesty schemes for them.
He said that import of tyre scrap was allowed to cement manufacturers only vide SRO 574(I)2012 dated 1st June 2012 but the Pyrolysis units are not being allowed to import tyres. Only 50% of the tyres imported by the cement industry are being used there whereas remaining 50 % of the imported are sold to Pyrolysis industry.
He said that if the Pyrolysis industry is allowed to import tyres through proper channel and it would help to overcome the energy crisis, reduce cost of production of many industries wherein this oil is used as fuel.
He suggested that TDAP should actively organize trade fairs and exhibitions. For this purpose, some strategic reorientation in the functioning of TDAP in the disbursement of Export Development Fund is essential. He proposed that Export Development Fund should be made more aligned with the overall objectives of Strategic Trade Policy Framework.
Special focus should be placed on export-oriented firms that are predominantly small & medium enterprises. It is also essential to ramp-up the disbursement of EDF for research & development activities of innovative growth firms and for performance oriented trade associations.