Karachi : For the first time China has shared data of customs shipments with Pakistan, said senior vice president Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) Dr Mirza Ikhtiar Baig. “Federal Finance Minister Asad Umar has told me during his recent visit to Karachi that China has shared customs shipment data with the Federal Board of Revenue,” he said while talking to a select group of journalists on Tuesday.
He said Pakistan’s imports from China were about $17 billion and majority of commercial importers prefer under-invoicing while managing to clear the imported goods on 30 to 40 percent duty.
There was no such exchange earlier because of the business interests of traders from both sides. However, said Dr Baig, Pakistan had requested China to provide data. Also, he added, the looming pressure from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has paved the way for availability of data from China.
According to him, the said that data has been provided to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and it would be possible to know the difference between the actual cost of these goods and the declaration made by commercial importers in Pakistan. “It would be helpful in curbing under invoicing and the FBR would be in a position to take action against the responsible ones,” he stressed.
He said that Finance Minister Asad Umar has also informed him that the government was set to remove regulatory duty on industrial raw materials in the upcoming mini budget on 23rd of January.
He further said the FPCCI would hold a businessmen convention next month where representatives from Chambers of Commerce and Industry, top exporters, overseas investors, American Business Council and Pakistan Business Council would be invited to spell out their mind about the state of business environment in Pakistan. Prime Minister Imran Khan is due to preside over the gathering, he added.
He said the business community would seek roadmap from the government in order to assess when the economy would come out of heat and normal business activity will start. At present, he pointed out, all of the government policies are meant for firefighting and no comprehensive strategy has so far been rolled out.
He said the federal finance minister has assured the business community that the government was aiming at industrialization and export-led growth strategy to improve economy and revive the job market. The government has a strong feeling that no major industrial activity has taken place over the last five to seven years and most of the factories have turned into warehouses. However, he said, the business community is not sure how the government would kick start business activity in the country, especially when there is a complete ban on industrial gas and water connection, while there is a moratorium on power connections to the industrial units. Also, 14 percent market is also adding fuel to the fire and chances of default of corporate sector are high. Further, no bank is ready to hedge dollar against Rs 145 today, therefore, no industrialist is in a position to import machinery, as he has no idea that what would be the landing cost of it due to heavy fluctuation in dollar price.
He said the high cost of doing business is hampering growth of industry in Pakistan. The government is delaying payment of refunds and the working capital has been chocked. There is five percent tax on exports in the shape of withholding tax, turnover tax and advance tax etc.