Govt asked to allow import of gold legally to discourage smuggling
ISLAMABAD – Senate Standing Committee on Commerce on Wednesday asked the government to allow the import of gold legally to discourage its smuggling.
A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce was held under the chairmanship of Senator Zeeshan Khanzada at Parliament House. The meeting commenced with a briefing on the issue of gold imports in the country. Senator Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar said that about 80 tons of gold is consumed in the Pakistani market and all this gold is smuggled into Pakistan. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) also does not allow foreign exchange for gold imports. He added that we should allow import of gold legally. “Even if the government does not allow it, gold is still being smuggled, so why not allow it to be imported legally. It will also benefit the country in terms of taxes said Senator Kakar. Federal Minister for Commerce Syed Naveed Qamar said that a lot of work has been done regarding gold. It also comes in a luxury item list so it is temporarily banned. But the import ban is an emergency measure that is to be lifted soon. He added that the trade imbalance and current account deficit figures were worrisome. Naveed Qamar assured that the issue of gold import would be resolved within a month.
The committee also considered the issue of containers stranded at the port due to import ban. Naveed Qamar said that we will settle the tax issues with the owners of the trapped containers as soon as possible and release them. Senator Fida Mohammad pointed out that (gur) and sugar are considered in the same category and expressed his concerns over the export ban on Gur. Naveed Qamar informed the committee that meetings of the Sugar Policy Board have been scheduled. This issue will be taken up in these meetings. Considering the availability of sugar in the country, a decision will be taken regarding export. The Commerce Secretary agreed with Senator Fida Mohammad that the issue of Gur and Sugar should be dealt with separately. The committee was briefed on the steps taken by the ministry to protect the local gypsum industry. Chairperson NTC informed the committee that a 26 per cent tax has been imposed on gypsum imports to protect the local industry. Representatives of the gypsum industry said that paper used in finished gypsum products is being imported from Thailand and China. This special type of paper is not manufactured in Pakistan but still heavy tax has been imposed on its import. Chairperson NTC said that the industry should file its case in NTC and we will take necessary steps in this regard. The Ministry of Commerce gave a briefing on increase in price of iron/steel rods and consequently increase in construction cost. Senator Mohammad Abdul Qadir said that the local production of steel in Pakistan is about 7-8 million tons annually. The steel mafia has been able to get the taxes imposed on steel imports in the form of heavy regulatory duties and anti-dumping duties, as well as drastically increasing the price of local steel in the country. Senator Mohammad Abdul Qadir was of the view that import of one to two million tonnes of steel should be allowed in the country. This will have a positive effect on prices and create a competitive atmosphere in the market. In particular, a policy should be formulated to import cheap steel from Iran through barter trade. Chairperson NTC said that in any case we have to reduce the regulatory duty. Deputy Chairman Senate Mirza Muhammad Afridi said that tax on imported scrap used in steel should be reduced in order to reduce prices of steel products. The Chairman Committee decided to convene a meeting at the Ministry of Commerce or NTC as soon as possible under a one-point agenda to further consider the matter.