LAHORE       -         The Businessmen Panel of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry has condemned the delaying tactics of the government in refund cases, as only sales tax refund claims have touched the figure of about Rs.350 billion.

In a statement, BMP Chairman Mian Anjum Nisar said that contrary to the claim of the government to release sales tax refunds of exporters within 72 hours, the new system has added an additional amount of around Rs100 billion sales tax within just four months.

He said that the government has continously been claiming to expedite the payment of refund claims, every time giving new date but never fulfilled its promise, as the exporters have not received money in this regard.

He demanded the earliest release of all refund claims of the export sector, including deferred claims, customs duty drawback, drawback of local taxes & levies, to help exporters overcome their liquidity crunch, besides meeting their export orders well in time.

Mian Anjum Nisar observed that the exporters are facing severe liquidity crunch issue while their representative elected trade body is doing nothing in this regard and playing a role of a quiet spectator only, which is very shameful. He lamented that meeting the operating expenses has become a challenge for the export sector because of the acute shortage of liquidity, forcing the manufacturers to shut their units.

The government had withdrawn zero-rated facility for five export-oriented industrial sectors in the budget 2019-20, announcing to initiate Expeditious Refund System (ERS) for automated payment on generated RPOs which has not been implemented so far. He said that billions of rupees stuck up refunds, soaring interest rate and high energy cost have turned the local industry uncompetitive in the global market.

He added that record inflation has hit the purchasing power of the common man due to which business activities have reduced drastically. He urged the government to reduce prices of fuel, electricity as well as the gas, besides reducing key policy interest rate to the single digit to provide some relief to the exporters. He warned that the economy would further weaken if the current financial policies were not reviewed immediately.

He raised serious concerns over the expected 2.4 percent economic growth of Pakistan in FY 2019-20, terming it quite disappointing as such slow economic growth cannot promote business and investment activities in the country, urging the economic managers to announce relief package for the export industry that has almost collapsed.

He said that the high cost of doing business has not only ousted Pakistani products from the international marketplace but is also jacking up the graph of unemployment. He said that it is not the export industry only that is suffering because of high cost of doing business but almost every sector is facing same situation that is giving a bad name to the government.v