SIALKOT - The National Assembly's Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs recommended the government fully patronise the export sector and expressed concerns over declining national exports and prolonged problems of the exporters.

The body held a meeting at the auditorium of Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) under the joint chair of its Chairman Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh  and Mian Abdul Manan. It stressed to give maximum boom to the export industries of Sialkot by removing all the hurdles from the way of exports promotion by taking all the stakeholders into confidence.

The Committee discussed the prolonged problems being faced by the Sialkot exporters and industries and recommended that the government come forward with effective measures to boom up the Sialkot's sports goods, surgical instruments, leather and leather garments industries by encouraging the Sialkot exporters at every level. It also recommended early release of Sialkot exporters' pending duty drawbacks and refund claims worth billions of rupees.

Committee also discussed their problems related to the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), State Bank of Pakistan(SBP), Board of Investment (BoI) and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP), besides, discussing the issues of differential of income tax between commercial and industrial importers, and the audit criteria  defined by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) for industries.

During the meeting, the Sialkot exporters pointed that due to the lack of proper government patronage in shape of the export-related incentives, the exports of leather were rapidly declining in Sialkot. They said that there was about 25 percent decline in leather exports from Sialkot and the nasty matter should be a point of grave concern and an eye-opener for everyone.

They told the Committee that it had become very hard for the Sialkot exporters to compete with Bangladesh, Taiwan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, China and India in the international markets, as they were producing the much less-cost export products as compared to Pakistan.

The exporters demanded sector-wise economic development councils to boost the surgical, sports goods, leather, textile and leather garments sectors, and devising effective and positive trade and export policies by taking all the stakeholders into confidence.

They said, "It has become necessary for everyone to wake up now for the economic stability." They added that the proper government patronage, support and encouragement could help the Sialkot exporters to flourish the exports with full devotion, dedication and complete peace of mind. The government should ensure early end to the step-motherly treatment with the Sialkot exporters.”

The exporters also urged the National Assembly's Committee to keep focus on the value-addition and diversification to the all the Sialkot-made export products.

They said that they have been serving 100 international brands at Sialkot by producing the best quality export products like sports goods, surgical instruments, musical instruments and leather garments.

"We should adept ourselves to the new changes," the exporters added. Addressing the meeting, PTI Parliamentarian Asad Umer stressed the need for removal of all the hurdles from the way of strengthening the national economy by boosting the exports and encouraging the exporters.

He said that the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has become the most corrupt institution of the country, alleging that the FBR's senior and junior officials were directly and indirectly involved in the tax evasion across the country. He also stressed the need to tame the FBR.

Dr Nafisa Shah addressing the meeting stressed the need for country's export sectors encouragement and support by the government by making some urgently needed effective measures to halt the continued decline in the national exports. She also stressed the need of value addition sector's development.

Abdul Rashid Gordil addressing the meeting said that the export industries' problems be resolved immediately. He said that the government depute "the right persons at the right places". It was the first time National Assembly's Standing Committee on Finance, Revenue and Economic Affairs held a meeting at the auditorium of Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry.