LAHORE - No economic stability is foreseeable if it is without the consideration of country’s exporting sectors.

This was stated by Tanweer Aslam Chawla, chairman Pakistan Tanners’ Association -Northern Zone, after attending a meeting that discussed the worst-ever export decline recorded in the past twenty five years.  While Ministry of Finance & Economic Affairs is on the move for finalizing proposals for upcoming federal budget, the Ministry should consider PTA’s proposals to arrest the leather export decline which is 27% down already in terms of values of goods exported in Jul-Mar last year, Chairman PTA-NZ said.

Agha Saiddain, ex-chairman PTA, worked out that during the past three years, Pakistan lost 42% in terms of quantities of leather exported. Pakistani leather is world’s best leather ranked even higher than India, Bangladesh and other countries and we have the best leather technology available in the country, Saiddain added. He stressed on government for implanting measures to provide level playing field for leather manufacturers-cum-exporters.

He told that a recent delegation from Pakistan comprising of, inter-alia, the high ranked officers from Ministry of Commerce, during its tour to India in December 2015 witnessed the flourishing of Indian leather sector with the patronage of Government of India.

Anjum Zafar, chairman Duty Drawback Committee of PTA, updated that Pakistani leather exporter is crumbling for having due refund (sales tax, duty drawback) amounts blocked in tax system for the last 2 years. “No benefits, but we want our money refunded. Presently Punjab leather industry has more than Rs.250 million stuck on account of sales tax and duty drawback refund”. He acclaimed that government of Pakistan at large has failed to account for the genuine needs of leather exporting sector, therefore we stand nowhere in the global outset. After 2010 till 2015, our regional competitors like Bangladesh outperformed in the same regime and its leather exports boosted 105% up.

Whereas, India and China posted a parallel increase of 63% and 19% in the same period. Pakistani exports are on the declining trend for which Zafar held govt policies responsible. He added that besides inflation, local taxes are adding up 12-14% to the cost of exports hence we are getting out of business internationally. Evidently, there is no consideration for exporters at FBR offices. Government should bring comprehensive reform in the tax refund system so that no refund of exporter should remain stuck up anymore, Anjum requested.

Chairman PTA (Northern Zone) appealed Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif to call on an emergent meeting with leather sector stakeholders in order to build up a deep insight on the worsening affairs and to conclude on measures for improvement.

He revealed that a comprehensive letter is already awaiting Prime Minister’s consent and consideration.