ISLAMABAD - The ministry of commerce on Wednesday recommended that imports of gold must be curtailed until the dollar stabilises given the current economic situation of the country.

A meeting of the Sub-Committee on the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce was held in Parliament House. The meeting was convened for a briefing on gold imports under the convenership of Senator Fida Muhammad; those who attended included Senator Muhammad Abdul Qadir and senior officers from the Ministry of Commerce (MoC).

The Committee discussed various issues that challenged the industry. Details of import policy were shared as well. It was asserted that presently the import of gold into Pakistan is governed under the Entrustment and Self Consignment Schemes. Under the Self Consignment Scheme a jeweller can export jewellery made from locally procured precious metals and gem stones and allowed to realize 50 percent of such export proceeds in the form of gold import.

MoC has been receiving representation from the gems and jewellery sector to review stringent policies to facilitate the Country. The Ministry has also received recommendations from PM Task force for Gems and Jewellery and Tax Ombudsman regarding this matter. Accordingly a Gems and Jewellery Committee formulated by MoC to address concerns. The panel consisted of representation from MoC, State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP_. Proposals have been finalized for amendments. The Committee was informed that currently zero percent duty was being charged; 17 percent sales tax has also been lowered to encourage jewellers to join the tax net. Given the current economic situation of the country the Ministry recommended that imports of gold must be curtailed until the dollar stabilises. The matter could be reviewed at a future date.

It is worth mentioning here that Senate Standing Committee on Commerce had discussed the issue of gold imports in the country on June 29 this year. The committee had noted that about 80 tons of gold is consumed in the Pakistani market and all this gold is smuggled into Pakistan. Senator Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar said that the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) also does not allow foreign exchange for gold imports. He added that we should allow import of gold legally. “Even if the government does not allow it, gold is still being smuggled, so why not allow it to be imported legally. It will also benefit the country in terms of taxes said Senator Kakar.

The Committee directed that the FBR be summoned in the next meeting for details on taxation rules applicable to the Industry. Members of Sarafa Committee will be called as well for a holistic view.