LAHORE - The illegal import of cement from Iran is on the rise and this cement is freely available in the local market at much lower rates due to tax evasion through misdeclaration, affecting not only the local industry but also squeezing the revenues of national exchequer. Same is the case with local industries of tyres and tiles, which have also been facing ample challenges due to the smuggling.

“The earning of tyres industry is heavily affected by the smuggling of tyres from Afghanistan while local tiles industry has been vanishing due to heavy influx of Iranian tiles in the local market. Now it seems the cement industry will be the next prey of this smuggling menace,” industry sources said. They said that some cement importers are committing serious irregularities through mis-declaration in cement import from Iran under the brand names of Sistan, Khash, Mumtazan, Kirman, Ghain and selling it in the local market, at rates much lower than the Pakistani brands by means of tax evasion.

The importers of Iranian cement are paying duties to the extent of 30 tons against the consignment of 60 tons, thus evading the duties by 50 percent. This tax evasion is not only affecting the domestic market but affecting the much needed government revenue.

Senior Vice Chairman, All Pakistan Cement Manufacturers Association (APCMA), Sayeed Tariq Saigol, in a letter written to chairman of FBR Tariq Bajwa, has drawn his attention towards the illegal import of cement from Iran.

The association also presented two receipts to the Chairman FBR as an example. He briefed that two bilties are both dated September 15 and bearing same serial numbers (017) for the same truck number NAA-950 showed different weights of cement, 58.75 tons and 30 tons, for the clearance. He further mentioned that the same truck declared 30 tons weight in the Goods Declaration Form (GD-1). ‘It is requested that relevant agencies of the FBR may be advised to take cognizance of the matter, accordingly,’ he requested.

He termed this situation grave for the sector that is already facing issues like loadshedding, shortage of labor, slowdown of construction activities, and low exports. ‘The import of cement from Iran is detrimental to the sector. This has been proved by the plight of many other sectors, especially tiles industry,’ he said.

Industry stakeholders said that it is feared that the local cement industry, which is contributing Rs. 2,000 per ton to national exchequer in the shape of indirect taxes, would face severe issues if the threat of this illegal import of Iranian cement is not countered effectively by the government or relevant authorities.