Lahore : The Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has appealed to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Finance Minister Ishaq Dar for the grant of zero rated regime, as granted to other five export-oriented sectors.

Abdur Raheem Janoo, Chief Patron of REAP, Ch Shafique, Chairman REAP and Nauman Ahmad Sheikh, Senior Vice Chairman REAP, also welcomed the statement of Javed Bilwani, Chief Coordinator for five Zero Rated Export Sectors, in which he had called for also including the rice sector in the zero rated regime in the upcoming budget and assured full cooperation in this regard.

REAP Chairman Ch Shafique said the rice sector was the second largest foreign exchange earner for the country, surpassing more than $2 billion annually.

He also demanded the government to withdraw all duties on the import of all kinds of rice machinery in the upcoming budget. “If rice sector is discouraged, the exporters will lose established markets and will get disheartened,” he said, adding, “If the government’s intentions are good then ‘No Payment, No Refund’ policy would curb corruption.”

“If the government wants to increase exports, then why to penalise the export sector by making it to pay first and then get refunds,” he queried. Shafique said that the working capital of the exporters had got blocked, as their refunds had been pending for many years. Conveying gravity of the situation, he said, “People have to borrow loans to run their units or shut them down.” He also called for merging other taxes/cess on all export items in one tax, to be collected through banks at the time of negotiating documents or on receipt of payments.

“This will increase the government’s revenues and eliminate corruption. Besides that its calculation formula is very easy,” Shafique said.

He also demanded exemption for exporters from sales tax on packing material, local supply and electricity bills. “It will give a peace of mind to them, and their exports will increase and once the exports increase the government revenue increases,” he noted.

“If all these demands are met on war footing, REAP assures to increase rice exports to $4 billion by the end of 2018,” he concluded.