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LAHORE: Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce & Investment Abdul Razak Dawood has assured the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry to resolve the issues of 203 (B) and invoices soon. "I will talk to the Finance Minister in this regard," he said.

He was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry. LCCI president Mian Tariq Misbah presided over the meeting while former LCCI presidents Mian Misbah-ur-Rehman, Shahid Hassan Sheikh, Sohail Lashari, Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, former SVP Amjad Ali Jawa, Ali Hussam Asghar and former vice president Kashif Anwar also spoke on the occasion.

The Adviser said the prime minister will have meetings with the presidents of the Chambers to set export target for the next year. He said that Pakistan is shifting from trading to manufacturing that is a key to economic stability.

He said Pakistan's trade with Uzbekistan and Central Asian States is very low. These countries want access to the sea and Pakistan is most suitable country for them. He said Uzbekistan has acquired 25 acres of land that will increase trade between the two countries. He said the government is going to sign a transit trade agreement with Uzbekistan. He said two flights between Pakistan and Uzbekistan will be started soon. He said Pakistan must focus on enhancing regional trade which remains very low and must be exploited. Calling for increase in regional trade, he gave the example of the European Union where regional trade was 90 per cent.

Abdul Razak Dawood shared details of the agreements and MoUs concluded during Prime Minister Imran Khan's recent visit to Uzbekistan, saying it was a successful visit. He informed the meeting that 71 agreements were signed between the two countries. He invited the businessmen to take part in the single-country exhibition to be held in Tashkent soon. He added that economic and industrial boost was on government's top agenda. He assured businessmen that all problems of the industrial sector would be resolved amicably. "The Commerce Ministry is actively engaging with all relevant stakeholders to understand the issues related to trade and investment in current challenging situation," he added. LCCI president Mian Tariq Misbah said the Ministry of Commerce deserves special appreciation on the remarkable export performance of Pakistan as the Export figure for 2020-21 has crossed 25 Billion Dollars.

Mian Tariq Misbah said exorbitant fines have been imposed on the importers under section (28)156 of the Finance Bill if they for any reason are not able to complete the paperwork for redemption of their shipments. This clause is also against the spirit of a business friendly environment and therefore it should be withdrawn.

He said that the requirement of the presence of invoice inside the containers should not be imposed on the containers which are already in transit as they were shipped before the announcement of Budget and hence do not contain invoices.

He said that Break-bulk Containers should also be exempted from the condition of presence of invoices as it is not possible to put invoice inside the Break-bulk Containers.

He said the Artificial Leather Industry and PVC Flooring Industry are facing anomalies after the Budget as the duties on their raw materials have become equal to greater than the duties on their finished products. This anomaly is hampering the local industry and needs your attention.

Mian Tariq Misbah said that the main raw materials of the Artificial Leather Industry are PVC suspension resin and fabric which are subjected to Custom Duty of 11 percent and 20 percent respectively. However, the tariff on the finished products of artificial leather i.e. woven backed coated fabrics and non-woven back coated fabrics has been reduced from 20 percent to 11 percent and from 11 percent to 3 percent respectively in the Federal Budget 2021-22.

The LCCI President said that the export of raw material copper is hampering our SME sector. No Duty on export of Copper is levied even though it is an important raw material for many small industries related to Engineering sector in Pakistan. He said that the issue of the Misuse of Tax Exemptions given to the industries based in Federal/ Provincial Administered Tribal Areas (FATA/PATA) on imports of raw materials remains largely unaddressed.

The LCCI has raised this issue with the State Bank that the ban on Advance Payments for Commercial Importers is making it very difficult for them to import vital raw materials and other essential components (spare parts and machinery). We recommend that Commercial Importers should be allowed to import against Advance Payments up to $20,000.

Former LCCI president Mian Misbah-ur-Rehman suggested formation of a committee having Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Adviser on Commerce and exporters as members in its fold.

Executive Committee Members Shahid Nazir, Shahzad Butt, Fiaz Haider, Zeshan Sohail Malik, Mardan Ali Zaidi, Uzma Shahid, Imran Bashir, Abdul Wadood Alvi and Malik Riaz Iqbal were also present.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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