Govt sets target for agri growth at 3.5pc in FY-2016-17

ISLAMABAD (APP): The govt has set the agriculture sector growth target at 3.5pc while the industrial sector's growth target has been set at 7.7pc for the fiscal year 2016-17. According to budgetary documents, the agriculture sector is targeted to grow by 3.5pc on the basis of expected contributions by important crops (2.5pc), other crops (3.2pc), cotton ginned  (2.5pc), livestock (4pc), fishery (3 per cent) and forestry (3pc). "Adequate production of cotton crop for 2016-17 is dependent on efficient pest management, favorable weather conditions and profitable commodity prices", the document added. According to the document, the industrial sector is expected to grow by 7.7pc during 2016-17 on the back of better energy supply and planned investment under CPEC. The mining sector is projected to grow by 7.4pc, besides the manufacturing sector is expected to grow by 6.1pc for 2016-17, LSM growth rate of 5.9pc, small and household manufacturing 8.2pc, construction by 13.2pc and electricity, generation and gas distribution by 12.5pc.


Mobile handset imports reach $687.249m amid 5pc increase

ISLAMABAD (APP): Mobile handsets worth $687.249 million have been imported during first 11 months of current financial year 2015-16, showing 5.11 per cent increase as compared to same period last year. The country, having more than 133 million mobile phone subscribers base, imported US $ 653.813 million in same period last year. According to the data of PBS released on Wednesday, overall telecom imports saw decline of 0.66 per cent during July-May 2015-16 as compared to same period last year. Total imports were recorded at $1.256 billion against $1.265 billion in the same period last year. Other telecom apparatus import also witnessed significant decline of 6.84 per cent during this period as it stood at $569.459 million during July-May (2015-16) against $611.277 million during same period of last year. In order to stop mis-declaration and to bring tax structure in line with market prices, the government in the budget for next fiscal year has announced to rationalize the sales tax rates on mobile phones.

The existing sales tax rates of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 are proposed to be increased to Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,500 for medium and high category mobile phones respectively. The rate of tax on low category mobiles will remain unchanged at Rs 300.

However, analysts said with the increase of tax rate, mobile import through proper channel would decrease, thus depriving the government of revenue as it would result in increase of smuggled mobiles.

According to official assessment, the country sustained

$1.1 billion losses due to smuggling of mobile phones last year.

Further, the increase in mobile prices is expected to hinder the

growth of 3G/4G technology in the country.


Policy of squeezing well-performing sectors criticised

ISLAMABAD (NNI): Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders on Wednesday criticised the policy of slapping additional taxes on profitable sectors, fearing these would discourage investors. “The government should remember that there were 1.6 million filers in 2006, but now the number has dropped to one million due to such policies,” it said. “The authorities should reduce reliance on indirect taxes and prefer direct taxation which is going down,” said Patron Islamabad Chamber of Small Traders Shahid Rasheed Butt. He said that exports had dipped by 14 percent while agriculture produce had dwindled to what it was in 2009. “Foreign direct investment in Pakistan remained one billion dollar during the last one year, while FDI in Indonesia remained $29 billion during the period under consideration,” he elaborated. He opined that although overreliance on loans had stabilised foreign exchange reserves, but it had also pushed debt servicing cost to Rs1803 billion which is a matter of grave concern.

Butt said that well-performing sectors, including telecom, corporate, services, banking, cement and construction, had been subjected to additional taxation, while super tax had resulted in discouraging the investors.

He said that stock market situation was satisfactory, but it should be properly regulated so that local and foreign investors could invest without any fear.


UNISAME for regaining Pakistani basmati rice share in global markets

ISLAMABAD, (NNI):  The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) has urged the federal commerce minister Khurram Dastgir Khan to take steps on a priority basis to regain the Pakistani basmati rice share in global markets and save the rice breed from dilemma. UNISAME President Zulfikar Thaver urged the commerce minister to first get the zero rating for the rice sector to relieve it of the burden of multiple taxes on the entire supply chain from the farm to the markets. “The farm inputs have become very costly and the promised relief though insufficient has not yet been provided,” Thaver added. “Rice is the second largest export-oriented sector after textiles and deserves government’s support. This is the best time for support as the new crop is at the threshold. The white and parboiled rice sector both need the support to get back on their feet,” he asserted. Thaver urged co-ordination with other ministries for research in seeds to develop other varieties.

He said it was very important to improve the entire supply chain from the farm to the markets, and all the sectors: from the primary to the tertiary needed to be upgraded.