Facilitation of exporters only way forward: Hammad Azhar

  • State minister says ill-conceived policies of the past govts had jeopardised the vibrant export industry of textile

LAHORE: Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar said on Saturday that the government was taking practical steps for economic revival by ensuring maximum facilitation to the industry, especially the export-oriented units.

He was talking to the media after holding a meeting with industrialists of the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) and Pakistan Textile Exporters Association (PTEA).

Hammad Azhar said that promotion of industry, agriculture and small & medium enterprises (SMEs) was among the top priorities of the government, adding that measures were being taken to ensure economic revival through broadening of taxes, innovative methods, following the international standards, use of technology, and maximum facilitation to the industrialists and businessmen.

To a question, he said that the major chunk of tax refunds comprised the export industry’s sale tax, for which the government had evolved a comprehensive strategy. “The old and long-standing refunds would be vacated on a priority basis through cash, while others would be dealt through promissory notes so as to bring the liquidity crunch in the export sector to an end,” he added.

He was of the view that the ill-conceived policies of the past governments had jeopardized the vibrant export industry of textile, which subsequently ruined the country’s overall economy and had jacked up unemployment and poverty ratio. However, he said, the PTI government was committed to promoting the export sector, as it was the only way to revive and stabilise the economy.

Hammad Azhar mentioned that the government had also reduced the duties on textile inputs, besides bringing its gas and electricity tariffs to regional averages so as to make it competitive.

He sought names from APTMA for constituting a committee that would also have public sector representation to spot the textile industry’s woes and to find their viable solutions.

The state minister said the yield of cotton had long been squeezing mainly because of zero research on new cotton seed varieties, asserting that the government was working on National Agriculture Policy with the cotton crop on top of the agenda.

He said that overburdening of various taxes on the manufacturing sector would be eased out gradually by bringing the taxes to its GDP ratio, while various federal and provincial taxes for the industry would be clubbed in the next budget.

Regarding smuggling and under-invoicing, he said that fencing work was being done on the Pak-Afghan border which would substantially control the menace of smuggling and boost the local industry.

“The Finance Amendment Bill 2019 was the initiation of industrial facilitation,” he said. “As soon as we get the fiscal space, we will rationalise the taxation.”

He said that efforts were afoot to launch an online mechanism this year to help facilitate tax refunds, as “the government did not want to use the industrialists’ tax refunds as a tool for its liquidity”.

He said the government was also going to launch a five-year tariff policy and a five-year tax policy, which proves the government’s commitment and vision for industrialisation.

“Unfortunately, the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf government had inherited a fiscal deficit of Rs23 billion from the previous regime. However, things are now improving and moving in the right direction owing to the prompt corrective measures by the present government,” he claimed.

Hammad Azhar said the PTI government did not want to further push the nation into foreign debts, assuring that fiscal support from the friendly and brotherly countries would be spent on the industry.

To another query, Hammad Azhar said the government would not allow speculations in the real estate sector, as investors’ involvement in this sector had made it difficult for a common man to even think of buying a plot for residence. The government, he added, wanted to bring real estate investment into entrepreneurial activities by regulating the sector.

The state minister mentioned that Moodys had also appreciated the PTI government’s fiscal reforms, saying that these would help promote industry and businesses as well as overcome unemployment and poverty.

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