Govt refuses to allow vintage car import

Cabinet rejects summary proposing one-time relaxation of import restriction

Zafar Bhutta November 12, 2021
Motorists take part in a vintage car rally along a road in Peshawar. PHOTO: PPI


The government has refused to grant one-time exemption for import of vintage cars. In this regard, the commerce ministry had tabled a case before the cabinet in a meeting held last week.

The Commerce Division informed the participants that the Import Policy Order (IPO) 2020, Appendix-C, Clause 10 stated that the import of second hand/used vehicles was not allowed except for those specifically exempted under Chapter 87.

Residents of Pakistan cannot import used vehicles including vintage ones.

The Federal Board of Revenue (Revenue Division) issued SRO 833(I)/2018 dated July 3, 2018, under which a cumulative duty of $5,000 per unit was levied on the import of vintage cars/ jeeps (PCT 8703) that were over 50 years old.

However, the SRO could not be applied because of the ban on import of vintage cars in the Import Policy Order.

To make a corresponding amendment to the Import Policy Order, a summary was moved to the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) by the Commerce Division in January 2019, which contained a proposal to allow import and import-cum-export of vintage cars. However, the said proposal was not approved.

Meanwhile, some of the cars that were imported under SRO 833(I)/2018 had arrived in the country. Importers of these cars then began approaching different courts to request the release of their cars.

They argued that they had imported the cars on the basis of the SRO and were unaware of any ban in the import policy.

Read Ministry closely watching imports

Some courts allowed the release of imported cars while others declined the petitions on the ground that the SRO was not issued under Section 3(1) of the Imports and Exports (Control) Act 1950, hence amendments to the conditions was not possible.

Keeping in view the divergent interpretations by various benches, the Sindh High Court chief justice constituted a larger bench to decide the matter of import of vintage cars in light of the SRO 833(I)/ 2018 and the Import Policy Order.

Besides, the Ministry of Commerce, Federal Board of Revenue (Revenue Division) and Collectors of Customs (East and West), Karachi were made respondents.

The larger bench, vide its judgement on September 10, 2021, agreed in principle with the Ministry of Commerce’s point of view. It stated that the import of vintage cars could not be allowed unless an appropriate amendment was made in the Import Policy Order in terms of Section 3(1) of the Imports and Exports (Control) Act 1950.

However, the court, by a majority of two to one, directed the federal government to consider these petitions as applications under paragraph 21 of the Import Policy Order for the grant of one-time relaxation in favour of the already imported vintage cars and decide the case within 10 days.

In this regard, the Ministry of Commerce sought approval for one-time exemption for the import of vintage cars mentioned in a summary in line with the court observations.

The cabinet considered the summary titled “One-Time Relaxation in Prohibition of Import of Vintage Cars or Otherwise in Light of Decision of the Sindh High Court” submitted by the Commerce Division, and did not approve one-time relaxation for the import of vintage cars.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 12th, 2021.

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