ISLAMABAD (May 04 2005): The government has reduced customs duty and withholding tax for private sector on import of five kitchen items – meat, livestock, onion, garlic and tomatoes – to zero percent. The private sector would be free to import listed items from any of the regional countries, including India.
It is for the first time that New Delhi has been included in the list of sources for import. The importers can also use the land route, for quicker arrival of the consignments.
The Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr Salman Shah, said at a hurriedly called press conference that the Prime Minister had approved duty-free import of kitchen items at a meeting which noted with concern that common man was suffering due to higher prices of daily use items.
The Adviser, however, clarified that this concessionary import was a temporary phenomenon and had been introduced to augment supply to stabilise the prices in the market.
He added that the Prime Minister had also accepted the recommendations of the task force to find out the reasons of irrational increase in the prices of essential items during the last few months.
He conceded that the prices of important kitchen items were on the rise. However, he claimed that since now the government was on it, the situation would improve soon.
Salman noted that the government would co-ordinate with the provinces for working out an effective strategy to improve supply of local produce. He said that provinces have been directed to take steps to remove disparity in the prices in different cities.
The Adviser did not agree with the suggestion that the government could move early to take action against the profiteers. His argument was that the government could make a move only after substantial evidence that anyone was indulging in profiteering.
He said that the increase in support price of wheat was not the cause of price hike. He said that surge in oil prices in the international market was one of many reasons which pushed up the prices of all household items during the last few months. Dr Shah said that the government would facilitate the imports, leaving the business to the private sector.