Govt orders release of Rs25-30bn sales tax refund

ISLAMABAD, March 11: The government on Tuesday directed the Central Board of Revenue (CBR) to release Rs25-30 billion sales tax refunds to the exporters immediately and decided to further improve the DTRE rules.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the inter-ministerial committee for export-led growth that was constituted by the prime minister last month.

The committee would again on Saturday finalize its recommendations for approval by the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the cabinet, sources in the commerce ministry told Dawn after the first meeting of the inter-ministerial committee.

The sources said the committee agreed that duty and tax remission for export (DTRE) rules should be made convenient for the exporters and recommendations to simplify these rules would be finalized on Saturday.

The meeting agreed that delayed sales tax refund at present to the tune of Rs25-30 billion were a real cause of difficulty for the exporters and directed the CBR to release these amounts immediately.

The CBR sources, however said, that it had already paid Rs18 billion sales tax refund to the exporters and remaining Rs2-3 billion were in the process of reconciliation.

The committee would also give final shape to the establishment of two special economic zones in Karachi and Pindi Bhattian on the pattern of China special economic zones. The prime minister has already approved in principle the idea of special economic zones.

The committee would also deliberate on revival of the industrial sector, institutional reforms including the restructuring of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).

The commerce ministry has already finalized a restructuring plan for EPB under which a private company would be created for effective marketing of exports which would have maximum flexibility for expenditure, negotiations and bargaining in the international market.

The committee would also set targets for Pakistani ambassadors abroad for export promotion when it meets again on Saturday.

The prime minister has already approved in principle a number of steps proposed by the ministry of commerce for export led growth when commerce minister Humayun Akhtar Khan gave him a detailed presentation last month.

The prime minister had constituted a six-member inter- ministerial committee to finalize its recommendations by March 15and submit to the ECC for formal approval.

The objective of the committee is to prepare an action plan for improving exports that would ultimately lead to economic growth. The committee led by commerce minister comprises ministers for industries & production, food, agriculture & livestock, adviser to the prime minister on finance, adviser to the prime minister on privatization, the governor State Bank of Pakistan.

Besides the members, the meeting was also attended by Sikander Hayat Khan Bosan, the state minister for food, agriculture & livestock and Tariq Ikram, chairman EPB and secretaries of petroleum & natural resources, industries & production and chairmen of the CBR and BoI.

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