ECC approves Rs30bn grant for sales tax refunds to exporters

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ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) on Wednesday approved a technical supplementary grant of Rs30 billion for the FBR Refund Settlement Company Limited in order to ensure payment of sales tax refunds to exporters.

The proposal of technical grant for the proposed company was forwarded by the Federal Board of Revenue.

Meanwhile, the ECC, which was headed by Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, also approved the renaming of ‘Zero-Rated sector’ as ‘Export-Oriented Sectors’. According to the Ministry of Commerce, since the removal of the zero-rated regime through an SRO in June 2019, the continuation of subsidized gas/electricity to the identified sectors has become an issue. For continuation of the facility, it has been renamed as ‘Export-Oriented Sectors’. The erstwhile zero-rated sectors, namely textile (including jute), carpets, leather, sports and surgical goods would be now included in Export-Oriented Sectors.

The ECC meeting approved amendments in 18 laws and 25 legal procedures to simplify and facilitate investments in oil exploration and production. The amendments in the laws were proposed by the Energy Task Force and other stakeholders.

Earlier, the Ministry of Energy had informed the ECC that a careful review of the Pakistan Onshore Petroleum (Exploration and Production) Rules, 2013, undertaken in consultation with petroleum industry, consultants engaged for the purpose and under the guidance of the Energy Task Force, had revealed that the rules were unduly stringent and had never been objectively updated to capture the latest regulatory and best business practices with a progressive approach to regulate the energy sector and encourage investment in this sector.

Moreover, the committee considered a proposal from the Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunication regarding the extension of government’s sovereign guarantee in respect of Telephone Industry of Pakistan for a further period of two years from 16th September 2019 to 15th September 2021 and payment of loan amounting to Rs150 billion, inclusive of mark-up of Rs1.030 billion, for smooth process of revival plan of the TIP.

The ECC discussed the proposal in detail and constituted a seven-member committee, to be headed by Adviser to PM on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, to review the proposal and submit its recommendations to ECC within two weeks.

On another proposal by the Ministry of IT & Telecom for exemption of 8pc minimum income tax for National Telecommunication Corporation, the ECC constituted a body comprising Economic Affairs Minister Hammad Azhar, IT Minister Khalid Maqbool Siddiqui, Board of Investment chairman and a representative from FBR to review the proposal and present suitable recommendations to ECC.

The committee also considered and approved an amendment to the implementation agreements in relation to Thal Nova Power Thar Private Limited and Thar Energy Limited after the ECC in its meeting held on 8th November had approved a proposal by the Power Division for amending the implementation agreements in relation to both the firms by increasing the time period from 400 to 490 days for the exercise of Government of Pakistan’s right to terminate both the projects.

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