KARACHI: Senator Muhammad Talha Mahmood Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance has said that the federal government can control the widening fiscal deficit by resolving the problems of traders and industry.
While addressing the Golden Jubilee ceremony of Pakistan Tea Association (PTA) on Saturday night, he said that trade and industry and the private sector are playing a vital role in the development of the country, as well as, it economic growth. They can contribute more for the economy, but there is a need to address their issues on priority, he added.
"Currently, the biggest problem of the federal government is the financial crunch that can only be solved by resolving the problems of traders and facilitating their business. Trade and industry will pay more taxes, when hurdles in their business will be removed", he mentioned.
Talha Mahmood said that the federal government cannot provide employment to the entire unemployed people, but the private sector has the potential to create hundreds of job opportunities by expanding their business and it is not possible without the government support.
In addition, the volume of rising import bill can be reduced by promoting local business. The government must consult with the trade and industry representatives and all policies should be developed with their consultation, he urged.
Talking about the issues related to tea trade, he said that tea could become a cheap food item in the current skyrocketing prices of commodities. The low-income class and the working class mainly used tea as food items and it is an essential part of food, particularly breakfast. However, this is an injustice that tea is still in the list of luxury items. "The government must consider the proposal of the Pakistan Tea Association and resolve this issue", he urged. The Standing Committee will also send recommendations to the Ministry of Finance to include it in the list of daily food items instead of luxury items, Senator Talha said.
He said that removal of tea from the list of luxury items will reduce the volume of duty and taxes on tea import, after which the local tea industry will also be required to reduce the price of tea to facilitate the consumers.
On the occasion, Muhammad Aman Paracha, Chairman Pakistan Tea Association, said that Pakistan is the one of the largest consumers of tea, but unfortunately, there are huge taxes on its import as this food product is the list of luxury items, showing it as a finished goods. Currently, tea importers are paying some 53 percent customs duty and other taxes on import of tea, he informed.
"When the country is facing high inflation, tea can be a cheap food for the poor, if it is excluded from luxury products", he added.
Paracha said that mainly tea imports in 50 to 70 kg packaging from Kenya and other African countries including. The imported tea is blended by local tea companies and converted into finished products and then sold with their own branding.
He informed that PTA members are paying approximately Rs40 billion duties and taxes annually, while the sector directly and indirectly employs 4 million people. He urged the federal government to remove the tea from the luxury items and declare it an essential food item to facilitate the tea industry and the general public in large.
On the occasion, President Federation Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry Mian Nasser Hyat Maggo, President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry Shariq Vohra, former chairman PTA Hanif Jano, Zeeshan Maqsood Senior Vice Chairman PTA, Director Shankiari Tea Project Dr. Abdul Waheed and others also spoke. A large delegation of tea traders from Kenya also attended the PTA golden jubilee ceremony and assured full cooperation for tea import.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021