FAISALABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan has directed Adviser on Commerce, Industry, Production and Investment Abdul Razak Dawood and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairman Shabbar Zaidi to remove hurdles in the way of clearing sales tax refund claims of exporters within 72 hours.
It was disclosed by Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) President Rana Muhammad Sikandar-e-Azam Khan after a meeting with the prime minister and participating in the chamber presidents’ enclave, organised by the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI).
He revealed that the PM had issued directives for further streamlining the refund system so that the promises made to exporters could be fulfilled.
Regarding Faisalabad Expo centre, the PM told the adviser to facilitate the FCCI in construction of the project.
The FCCI chief told the PM that despite assurances by the government, sales tax refunds were not being released within 72 hours, while the time frame had been extended to six months.
“In the present situation, the capital of exporters and their vendors has been withheld in the government treasury because of which they are facing serious liquidity problems,” said Khan.
He added that while imposing 17% sales tax on the zero-rated export sectors, they were assured that their refund claims would be cleared within 72 hours but practically the promise had not been honoured.
“The SME sector is the worst hit due to this situation as its entire capital has accumulated under the refund regime and it has not been able to continue routine exports,” he said. He added that the SME sector, in particular, was unable to get fresh loans from banks, and even if loans were granted, they were given at a high mark-up of 18%.
Hence, the government must cut the interest rate to a single digit and also fulfill its commitment of releasing refunds within 72 hours. In a separate meeting with SBP Deputy Governor Muhammad Javed, the FCCI president apprised him of the problems faced by the SME sector.
“Small industrial units must be provided cheap loans for replacing their old machinery and switching over to new technologies in order to compete in the international market,” he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 24th, 2020.