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A meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet was informed that around 5 percent of cars under personal baggage, transfer of residence and gift schemes were imported by genuine overseas Pakistanis.
The ECC meeting presided over by Finance Minister Asad Umer was requested that in order to prevent the misuse of the schemes and restrict imports under the schemes to genuine Overseas Pakistanis, on all vehicles in new/used condition to be imported under transfer of residence, personal baggage or gift scheme, the duty and taxes will be paid out of foreign exchange arranged by Pakistan nationals themselves or local recipients supported by bank encashment certificate showing conversion of foreign remittance to local currency.
The ECC was informed that import of used vehicles is allowed to the overseas Pakistanis under personal baggage, transfer of residence and gift schemes but there have been frequent complaints that the schemes, meant for overseas Pakistanis, are misused by the commercial importers for massive import of used vehicles.
Earlier, on October 6, 2017, a meeting of the ECC of the Cabinet considered a proposal of the Commerce Division on rationalisation of import in order to contain the misuse of these schemes.
The then ECC also decided that "on all vehicles in new/used condition to be imported under transfer of residence, personal baggage or under gift schemes, the duty and taxes will be paid out of foreign exchange arranged by Pakistan nationals themselves or local recipient supported by bank encashment certificate showing conversion of foreign remittance to local currency."
The effect of the decision led to effective restriction in imports of used vehicles and led to around 6,000 vehicles stranded at the seaport and hue and cry by the commercial car importers.
Subsequently, on the recommendation of the then adviser to the prime minister on finance, the Commerce Division moved another summary with the proposal that the new requirements should effect for vehicles arriving after February 28, 2018.
However, a meeting of the ECC on February 7, 2018 decided to revert the earlier mechanism which was in vogue prior to ECC's decision with the direction to the Commerce Division to deliberate on the issue holistically in consultation with all stakeholders and submit a summary with viable recommendations to the ECC for consideration, which effectively reversed the earlier decision.
The two meetings with stakeholders were held in the Commerce Division with the last one in May 2018 in compliance with the decision of the ECC wherein the representatives of the Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis & Human Resource Development while supporting the continuation of the schemes stated that around 5 percent of cars under these schemes were imported by the bona fide overseas Pakistanis.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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