LAHORE -  The business community has rejected the imposition of additional regulatory duty (RD) on import, saying the government neither can impose any duty nor enhance taxes without the approval of the parliament.

The regulatory duty was imposed by the government on 797 items including industry raw material without taking the business community on board who are the real stakeholders. They said that this is not the right way to curtail trade deficit, rather it is just a mini-budget announced in half way of the financial year.

APBF President Ibrahim Qureshi said that the government should not have enhanced the import duty on industry raw material and inputs for manufacturing of local products as it would cause further dip in exports due to rise in production cost. Qureshi said that the APBF had been calling for consultation before imposition of such duty but authorities did not bother to approach the stakeholders in this regard and imposed the decision unilaterally. He said that imposition of additional regulatory duty on various essentials is nothing else but to encourage smuggling of goods like chemicals and tyres that is already damaging the economic base of the country.

He said that additional regulatory duty will increase the prices of even necessary raw materials and other essentials for the trade and industry. He said that the APBF always supports reduction of luxurious item’s imports but also demands that imports of those raw materials and goods should not be hampered that are not being manufactured in the country. Qureshi said that the decision shows lack of planning on the part of the policy-makers, creating problems for business activities and putting extra burden on the masses.

Meanwhile, Pakistan FMCG Importers Association (PFIA) has decided to launch a forceful move against the recently imposed regulatory duty and raise the issue at every forum concerned for its immediate withdrawal.

This was stated by PFIA chairman Anjum Nisar and senior vice chairman Muhammad Ejaz Tanveer in a joint statement issued here on Tuesday. They said that challenging the imposition of this duty in Sindh High Court was part of that move.

They said that the government had levied the regulatory duties without consulting the sectors or importers concerned. They said that even raw material of some industries was levied with this regulatory duty. They were of the view that imposition of this duty would neither increase the revenue of the government nor would help in bridging the gap between imports and exports. Rather, it may encourage smuggling and under-invoicing, they apprehended. They said it will also discourage those businessmen who believe in fair dealings and contributing to national exchequer.

FPCCI former president Mian Idrees said the additional regulatory duty on several eatable items including fruits and vegetables would increase import bill, widening trade deficit further instead of controlling import. Terming it an unwise decision, which would unleash a new wave of inflation in the country, he said the move will affect growth of business activities. He said that the rising trade deficit poses one of the most serious challenges for the government, as the last fiscal year saw the trade deficit rise to an all-time high of $32.58 billion, representing year-on-year growth of 37 percent. When the government came to power in 2013, the country’s annual trade deficit was $20.44 billion. It has been continuously on the rise since then, he added.