ISLAMABAD                   -               The government has constituted a five-member committee to finalise proposals for providing relief to retail sector, in the wake of prevailing situation.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh has constituted a five-member committee including senior officials from Finance Division and the FBR to sit with representatives of the retail sector and finalise proposals for providing relief to the retail sector.

The Adviser made this decision while chairing a video conference arranged at the Finance Division with the representatives and office-bearers of Retails Association of Pakistan to discuss the problems faced by the sector and their possible solutions. The Association representatives said that the retail sector in Pakistan was contributing 18 per cent to the GDP besides employing 16 per cent of the labour force. They said that due to prevailing circumstances they are foreseeing negative growth in current year, hence it was imperative to provide relief, particularly in taxes, to the retail sector, especially the integrated sector.

Hafeez Shaikh said that the government was keen to help the retail sector and constituted a committee to further discuss and firm up proposals offered by the representatives of Retails Association of Pakistan before the next meeting which would finalise the proposals. He directed the committee to follow a quick-action approach to decide the mechanism of support as the government wanted to alleviate the hardships being faced by the various sectors of economy.   

In other development, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance has said the government has vowed to resolve the liquidity crunch, cash flow and other allied issues being faced by the industry and businesses and work in this direction has already started by releasing more than Rs. 115 billion of the sales tax and income tax refunds as well as duty drawbacks held up for years.

He was chairing a meeting-cum-video conference arranged at the Finance Division with leading industrialists and businessmen of the country. Minister for Industries and Production Muhammad Hammad Azhar, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood, Chairperson FBR Ms Nausheen Javaid Amjad and senior officials of the Finance Division were also present.

Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh heard various proposals and suggestions from the businessmen to support and provide relief to the industries and assured the participants of the conference that the government would carefully and favourably study all the proposals and all the major issues faced by the industry and businesses would be resolved and a comprehensive relief package would be offered to the industry.

He briefed the meeting that the government had released Rs 52 billion of the claimed Rs 57 billion to exporters through the Faster system and Rs 25 billion out of the Rs 52 billion sales tax refunds for other sectors and industries while the remaining would also be cleared within next one week. Similarly, the government had also cleared about Rs 30 billion tax refunds under the DLT, while Rs 15 billion duty drawbacks had also been paid. “Not only this, the government has also decided to pay within the next week all Income Tax refunds held up since 2014 and this measure alone would benefit nearly 100,000 taxpayers who would be paid over Rs 50 billion worth of refunds,” he added.

Earlier, the businessmen and industrialists giving their proposals and suggestions called for an inclusive relief package that addressed the needs of the large-scale as well as SME sectors.