Pharma industry gives govt deadline to meet its demands

ISLAMABAD – Putting forth a three-point charter of demands, the pharma industry on Thursday set a deadline till June 30 for the government, warning that closure of the cash-starved industry would be the only option left for the sector if demands were not met.
Speaking at a press conference here, Chairman Pakistan Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PPMA) Qazi Mansoor Dilawar called for refund of around Rs 40 billion collected by the government as sales tax on import of raw material, withdrawal of 17 percent sales tax on import of raw material and 20-25 percent increase in prices of medicines, to prevent collapse of the industry. He added that the situation could lead to shortage of life saving drugs in the country. Other office bearers of the association were also present on the occasion.
He pointed out that there was already shortage of some 40 medicines in the market, which he noted would assume alarming proportion causing trouble to patients, if no urgent steps were taken to save the industry.
He said a promise had been made by the previous government that the sales tax imposed under IMF pressure would be refunded within 48 hours, but regretted that no mechanism had yet been put in place for refund, blocking a huge amount of Rs 40 billion creating conditions where many industries had no funds to import raw material and pay salaries and utility bills. He said what exacerbates the problem was three time increase in the cost of raw material, manifold increase in the freight charges, hike in power tariff and fuel prices and devaluation of rupee. He also said the industry has to import 95 percent of the raw material.
PPMA president dispelled the impression that the sector was making windfall profits and said there were many medicines the cost of which exceeds retail price. He said around 70 percent medicines in Pakistan were cheaper as compared to neighbouring India and Bangladesh.

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