LAHORE  -   Minister of State for Revenue Hammad Azhar has said the government was taking practical steps for economic revival through facilitation to the industry.

He was talking to the media after having a meeting with the members of All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) here on Saturday.

Hammad Azhar said that promotion of industry, agriculture and SMEs was the top priority of the PTI government and measures were being taken to ensure real revival of economy through broadening of taxes, innovative methods, following the international standards, massive use of technology, maximum facilitation to the industrialists and businessmen.

He mentioned that Moody’s had also appreciated the PTI government's fiscal reforms, saying that these would help promote industry and businesses as well as overcome unemployment and poverty. He said that tax refunds' major chunk comprised export industry's sale tax for which the government had evolved a comprehensive strategy to vacate their refunds.

He was of the view that wrong and ill-conceived policies of the past governments had jeopardized the vibrant and main export industry of textile, which subsequently ruined the country's overall economy and had jacked up the unemployment and poverty ratio. However, the PTI government, he added, was all committed to promote export sector that was the only way to revive and stabilize economy instead of relying on mere foreign debts.

Hammad Azhar mentioned that the incumbent government had also reduced the duties on textile inputs, besides bringing its gas and electricity tariffs to regional averages to make it competitive.

He also sought names from APTMA for constituting a committee that would also have public sector representation to spot the textile industry's issues and fined their viable solutions. The state minister said that cotton yield had since long been squeezing mainly because of zero research on new cotton seed varieties, asserting that the government was working on National Agriculture Policy with placing the cotton crop atop.

Addressing the meeting, the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Chairman Syed Ali Ahsan said that the textile industry has envisaged to undertake new investment initiatives for technology up-gradation and value addition which will not only generate more exportable surplus but also new jobs, once the viability is fully restored. 

“The industry is determined to double exports in next 5 years with the investment of US $ 7 billion which will create new 1.5 million jobs,” he added.

He expressed the hope that the visit of the Minister of State would help resolve fiscal matters concerning exporting industry to move forward to achieve exports growth targets.

Chairman APTMA said the textile industry is the backbone of the economy of the country which strived hard for its survival in the last decade wherein 30% of the production capacity remained impaired. 

He thanked the PTI government for taking drastic measures for the sector growth, including the announcement of affordable energy package for exporting industry and  removal of sales tax and custom duty on import of cotton , basic raw material; which is already short for consumption in the country. 

He assured the visiting minister of not disappointing the government struggling for reduction in the trade account deficit by increasing exports. The positive results of the major decisions taken by government for industrial growth will be encouraging from January 2019 onwards, he added. 

He pointed that there are some pending issues of industry which are still hurting exports growth and seek immediate intervention from government. 

He suggested that the government should undertake further enabling measures pivotal for revival and long term growth of the industry which include liquidation of all pending refunds of the industry on account of sales tax and duty drawbacks and a strict monitoring of the entry and sale points to stop entry of smuggled goods in the larger interest of the domestic commerce.

Patron-in-Chief APTMA Gohar Ejaz said provision of the enabling environment for  the industry is a must to achieve the targets of earning foreign exchange, including liquidity improvement, cotton production and new investment as a way forward of the exporting industry.