MoC, FBR blame each other for issuing confusing regulatory duties on imports

Finance Minister Ishaq Dar runs ministry through Whatsapp: Mandviwalla

ISLAMABAD: While various sectors have shown serious reservations regarding the recently imposed Regularity Duties on selected import items, Ministry of Commerce (MoC) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) blamed each other for issuing a confusing SRO which may ultimately result in a reduction in exports for discouraging import of raw material.

A serious confusion was witnessed between the MoC and FBR during a meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Revenue on Thursday in which various stakeholders and representatives of trade bodies had shown their serious concerns over curbing import of raw material through the new initiative of FBR.

FBR Member Customs Zahid Khokhar informed the committee that regularity duty (RD) has not been imposed as revenue measure to generate more income for the national treasury but it was imposed upon the request of Commerce Ministry to discourage imports.

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In reply to the query of Committee Chairman Senator Saleem Mandviwala about the reasons for imposing RD on raw materials, Commerce Additional Secretary Anjum Amin said that the official stance of the commerce ministry was to encourage exports.

“We have stated it earlier in the meetings with the FBR too that imposing RD on the raw material would lead to costly production and make exports unviable,” she said and added, “We had given a list of non-essential items over which we wanted to have the RD imposed.” She said adding FBR made a complicated issue of it, whatever they wanted, as a result, everybody is complaining.”

Another official of the commerce ministry told the committee that they were not even informed about the final list.

Committee Members Senator Saud Majeed and Senator Mohsin Aziz inquired about the reasons for the changes in the list of items and the response was that the final list was approved by the Secretary Commerce.

The Senators expressed concerns over the confusion between the ministries and it was decided that FBR and Commerce Ministry would sit together and finalise the list in two weeks.

“The issue is that everything is on a temporary basis, why cannot the bureaucracy decide things on a long-term basis,” Senator Mohsin Aziz said and also criticised the commerce secretary for not sharing the information with relevant officials who were part of the discussion.

While talking to media after the meeting of the committee, Saleem Mandviwala said that there was complete confusion all over and as a result, the whole economy is in trouble. He said distortions and confusions were mainly due to the lack of sincerity on part of the government.

“With finance minister on the run and some departments seeking his arrest, how can the things operate through a social media network,” Senator Mandviwala said, adding that because the minister was only available on Whatsapp the FBR officials were doing what is best in their own capacity. “Government should replace Dar and bring a new finance minister,” he said.

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Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at ghulam.abbas@pakistantoday.com.pk
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