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ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has reportedly delayed its decision on a proposal of Ministry of Industries and Production proposal pertaining to exemption in customs duty and additional customs duty to importers of palm oil and palm olein, well-informed sources told Business Recorder.

On March 31, 2021, the proposal which was already cleared by Hammad Azhar, as Minister for Industries and Production, was presented in the ECC as a special case. Hammad Azhar allowed the summary for discussion as Chairman of the ECC.

Official documents reveal that Secretary, Industries and Production requested approval of the forum to table the agenda. It was informed by the Cabinet Division that the subject - additional agenda item - was received in the Cabinet Division after the deadline of seven days prior to the meeting, as stipulated in Rule 18(6) read with Rule 23(4) of the Rules of Business, 1973. Secretary, Industries and Production Division requested the Chairman ECC for consideration of agenda as urgently required. The Chairman, ECC, allowed the request to table the summary in consideration of proviso of the prescribed rule.

Industries & Production Division briefed the forum about the case as stated in the summary. The following proposals were submitted: (i) exemption from customs duty and additional customs duty of RBD palm oil (HS code; 15119020 and palm olein (HS code; 15119030) from April 1, 2021 to June 30, 2021 by using powers of Federal Government available under section 19 of Customs Act, 1969; and (ii) exemption from operations of section 8(B(1) of Sales Tax Act 1990, for manufacturers, dealers and retailers of edible oil or vegetable Ghee for the same period.

The ECC discussed the matter threadbare. It was observed that the decision needed evidence supported by relevant data. The forum agreed to further examine the proposal for an informed decision.

After a detailed discussion on exemption of customs duty, additional customs duty and the operation of Section 8(B)(I) of the Sales Tax Act 1990 on import of RBD palm oil and palm olein the ECC directed Ministry of Industries and Production to submit fresh proposal with evidence supported by relevant data about the impact of proposed exemptions on the price of edible oil/ghee in the country.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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