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ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet which is scheduled to meet on Wednesday (today) will grant exemption of all taxes on drones gifted by China for agriculture sector, and supply of flour and rice to Syria as humanitarian assistance.

In this regard, the Ministry of National Food Security and Research in a summary has stated that during a meeting with the Chinese Ambassador, Minister for National Food Security & Research (MNFS&R) requested the Chinese side for provision of drones for controlling desert locusts in Pakistan.

Consequently, after mutual consultation, a formal request was made through Ministry of Economic Affairs to China for provision of drones. Thereafter, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) China donated twelve drones to the Department of Plant Protection (DPP), which were handed over to the Pakistani Mission at Beijing.

The drones which were to be transported by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) remained parked in a warehouse in China and could not be transported to Pakistan due to the Covid pandemic restrictions worldwide and other reasons. MNFS&R with the assistance of Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Pakistan has now made all the arrangements for transportation of these drones by ship. The requisite cost has already been approved and a sanction letter issued for transfer of these funds to MOFA.

China donates 12 drones to fight locusts

At present, there are various taxes/duties/levies/port charges such as Federal Excise duty, sales tax, withholding tax, import duties, etc., applicable on the import of drones. Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) was consulted on the issue and it opined that the FBR allows tariff exemptions upon the recommendation of the Federal Government. In addition, Government of Sindh was also consulted and they have informed that the import of drones is not liable to Sindh Sales Tax under the Sindh Act of 2011

MNFS&R has proposed that all applicable taxes/duties on the import of drones, donated by the People's Republic of China to Pakistan, may be waived off. Moreover, according to the summary of NDMA, Prime Minister of Syria who appreciated Pakistani Government's humanitarian assistance to Syria provided in November, 2020 to fight against Covid-19 pandemic has requested for further support to the Syrian people in the form of edible items like wheat, rice and life-saving drugs because the Syrian people are badly affected by the Caesar Act 2019 applied by the US on Syria.

Pakistan's Ambassador in Syria has noted that Syria is expected to revert to normalcy soon. Further, Syria has always supported Pakistan on the Kashmir issue.

The summary says that option of sending edible items (wheat and rice) to Syria is not considered feasible due to non-availability of sea freight to Syria and huge cost involved for transportation of heavy donation consignment by air. Ministry of Foreign Affairs; therefore, analyzed the option of procuring wheat and rice from the Syrian market or from its neighbouring countries.

Pakistani Mission in Syria evaluated the option of procuring edible items (flour and rice) from the local market. Accordingly, the Mission has shared the prices of edible commodities. MOFA has endorsed the proposal and suggested that at least 200 tons each of rice and flour (total 400 tons) may be considered as food package to be given to Syria as humanitarian assistance. MOFA requested NDMA to arrange funds and get necessary approval from the competent forums to provide the humanitarian assistance to the people of Syria.Federal Cabinet previously approved donation of 50,000 PPES Kits to Syria and these were dispatched to Syria in November, 2020.

In terms of Section 6(21) read with Section 23(3) of the National Disaster Management Act, 2010, approval of the government is required to provide support to other countries affected by disasters, says the summary.

Chinese company donates five industrial drones to NDMA

NDMA has proposed that Government of Pakistan may provide donation of 200 tons each of flour and rice (total 400 tons) as a message of solidarity and help to Syria in time of need.

If the proposal is approved, Pakistani Mission in Syria will procure 200 tons each of flour and rice (total 400 tons) from Syrian local market. An amount of Rs 44.24 million , (equivalent to USD 270,000 @ US $ 1 = Rs 163.85) will be released through Technical Supplementary Grant after approval by ECC of the Cabinet for further transfer of funds to Pakistan Mission in Syria, through MoFA, for edible items. Finance Division has already endorsed the proposal of donation to Syria.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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