Govt mulls reducing sales tax from 17pc to 12pc, Senate body told

ISLAMABAD: A Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) official on Tuesday informed the Senate’s Standing Committee on Commerce and Industry that the government is mulling to reduce sales tax from 17pc to 12pc, adding that the tax department would soon issue a notification pertaining to reduction of sales tax on yarn from 10 to 5pc.

Responding to the Chain Store Association’s claim that big retailers are closing their businesses due to an increase in sales tax and government raids, the FBR policy member said, “Just as smuggling is a crime, the sale of smuggled items is also a crime. This is why the tax department is checking the goods at big shops.”

Meanwhile, discussing a separate agenda, Senators belonging to different political parties reportedly pressurised the customs’ officials to release what they believe as “scrap” containers held by Balochistan Customs.

Senator Ahmad Khan informed the committee, which met under the chair of Senator Mirza Ahmad Afridi, that the customs’ officials have stopped three scraps containers of importers due to which work on their factories have been halted.

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Khan, who also owns two steel mills in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said steel mill owners import scrap from different countries and that Pakistani businessmen are importing scrap as per the law.

On the other hand, Balochistan Chief Customs Collector Chaudary Zulfiqar told the committee that most of the importers are importing iron bars under the guise of scrap. “This (iron bars) do not come into the legal definition of scrap due to which we have stopped three containers and matter is at the adjudication level.”

The committee chairman noted that this matter comes under the domain of the collector (preventive and appraisement) and not the chief Balochistan collector.

On this, Chaudary Zulfiqar said that the matter was a misdeclaration case, which is why the department has applied section 32. “Pakistan Customs has not applied section 2S, which relate to smuggling.”

Winding up the discussion, the committee chairman formed a sub-committee on the matter under the chair of Senator Ahmad Khan, directing him to submit a detailed report in this regard within a week.

Moreover, Senators Shibli Faraz and Kauda Babar raised the issue of illegal import of apple from Iran. They demanded that its trade should be brought in the legal channel, besides imposition of duties to protect the local farmers of Balochistan. On this. Advisor to Prime Minister on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood said the government was taking steps to eradicate the menace of smuggling.

The meeting was attended by Leader of the House in Senate Shibli Faraz, Nuzhat Sadiq, Maulana Attaur Rehman, Muhammad Tahir Bizenjo, Ahmed Khan, Kauda Babar, Ghous Bakhsh Niazi and Rana Mehmoodul Hassan.

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