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ISLAMABAD: The documented steel sector on Thursday proposed the caretaker government to allow import of steel only through sea routes to halt smuggling of steel from Iran and Afghanistan to end the organized crime of smuggling.

According to a letter of the large steel industry to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Ministry of Commerce on Thursday, the industry wanted to discourage the scourge of smuggling of steel from Iran and Afghanistan by allowing the import of steel only through sea routes.

In Pakistan, the steel sector remains highly ignored and neglected. It is plagued due to massive tax evasion by the non-documented sector, due to large-scale production and sale of substandard steel which creates national risk for the future generations.

Despite challenges and fight for survival, the steel sector contributes major chunk of revenue to the exchequer. This sector creates huge job opportunities and it fuels over 45 important downstream industries.

Large scale smuggling of steel from Iran and Afghanistan poses serious threat to the survival of domestic steel industry.

The scourge of smuggling is not only wiping out domestic industry but also systematically destroying the exporting ability of the sector (of non-ferrous side) causing enormous revenue loss to the national exchequer and at the same time putting jobs of our people at stake.

The industry near boarder areas especially in Quetta, Balochistan is worst-hit due to smuggling. Despite the fact that the FBR/Customs took measures to stop smuggling, still the market is flooded with Iranian steel.

Apart from the above mentioned challenges, the menace of smuggling has been systematically destroying the exporting ability as well as the potential of this vital sector of the country’s economy.

During the last few weeks, some respite was felt in the incidence of smuggling. However, as per our past experience we fear for resumption of smuggling especially from Gwadar and Panjgoor once again.

The industry pointed out that the caretaker government as well as SIFC took strict measures to halt the menace of smuggling, however these are temporary measures. To put a complete end to this organized crime of smuggling our association strongly recommends the government to allow import of steel only through sea routes to halt smuggling of steel from Iran and Afghanistan. This can be done by including steel in the negative list disallowing import of steel through land routes and by allowing only through sea routes. This measure will help the government to save colossal resources/ and man power and to utilize / deploy the same for other important assignments.

The Customs authorities as well as Ministry of Commerce should take urgent measures on high priority for curbing the scourge of smuggling. This single measure will successfully halt the menace of smuggling of steel, it added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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