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ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Finance has recommended suspension of export development fund for a period of three years, after the committee was told that very nominal amount was being utilised for research and development of the industry.

The meeting presided over by Senator Muhammad Talha Mahmood to discuss the proposals to the Finance Bill 2021-22 was told by the representatives of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce that Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin has committed to transfer the fund from the Ministry of Finance to the Ministry of Commerce for its effective utilisation for upgradation of the industry and to increase the exports.

The meeting was told that Rs58 billion have been collected from the industry at 0.25 percent, however, its utilisation during the last three years was not more than Rs2 billion per annum.

The industry proposed that the fund should be frozen and further collection should be suspended as the industry has been facing financial constraints due to the Covid and even more importantly that this money was not being utilised.

Officials of the Commerce Ministry stated that the Finance Ministry was being repeatedly asked to transfer the fund to the Commerce Ministry as its utilisation was hardly Rs500 million to Rs600 million per annum from Rs8-9 billion collection.

The committee was informed that the Fund cannot be abolished because the collection was started through an Act.

The committee, unanimously, recommended that the collection under Export Development Fund (EDF) should be suspended for a period of three years.

The committee expressed serious concerns over the highhandedness of the custom officials and sought reasons from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman for raiding a cold storage.

The matter was raised by Senator Mohsin Aziz that around 100 custom officials with gunmen raided his cold storage as some foreign terrorist was hiding there, and forfeited the goods of the people by declaring them undeclared.

Subsequently, Senator Saleem Mandviwala pointed out that Senator Aziz’s name was still in the FIR upon this, the committee sought a report from the FBR into the matter and directed to immediately remove Mohsin Aziz’s name from the FIR.

Senator Saadia Abbasi proposed to reduce sales tax on powder, which was approved by the committee to reduce sales tax on cocoa powder from 20 percent to 10 percent.

Zubair Motiwala of Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that the government has abolished the customs duty on imports from three to five per cent but has increased the sales tax from 10 per cent to 17 per cent.

The sales tax has to be zero-rated.

The member customs said that the recommendations of the National Tariff Commission on the value-added chain of the textile industry have been implemented.

The chairman of the committee said that the committee supports your suggestions.

In the meeting of the standing committee, the officials of the Real Estate Dealers Association stated that the government has increased the gain tax on real estate and excluded those having more than Rs5 million turnover from the normal tax regime.

They suggested that tax on gain should be fixed at five percent.

The Standing Committee approved the proposal to increase the withholding tax of Karachi Chamber on exports to 0.5 percent instead of one percent, and also to keep the customs duty of Karachi Chamber at 10 percent. Adjust the sales tax on raw cotton.

The committee also approved a proposal to do so and abolish the zero rating.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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