KARACHI - Federal Minister for Commerce Engr Khurram Dastagir Khan on Thursday informed leather exporters that the government is working on formation of Leather Export Council (LEC).
In a meeting with officials and members of Pakistan Tanners Association (PTA) here, the minister assured that PTA will enjoy prominent position in LEC and the Association’s input will be duly sought at every step. “We will try to have a focussed dialogue on the leather industry’s issues through this council,” he said adding that in next annual budget, PTA proposals would be given due weightage. However, he advised, the Association should short list and prioritise its proposals/demands to gain swift response from the concerned government quarters. He said Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif takes all businesses very seriously and believes in private-public partnership. Khurram said that his ministry would be doing advocacy for getting all imported raw materials declared as zero-rated. He also agreed that the refunds of sales tax have become a serious issue and he was fighting for the earliest possible payment. Till the refund claims are cleared, at least exporters should be exempted from sales tax as this would add to liability of the government.
On the demand by PTA’s Chairman Muhammad Musaddiq, former chairman PTA, Gulzar Feroze and other PTA members that hides and skins be included in the schedule six of sales tax act 1990 like phutti (raw cotton) for continuing zero-rating of these leather industry raw materials as agriculture produke, the federal commerce minister said that he would look into the matter and try to provide maximum possible relief to this important industry.
He said that the government led by Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, is trying its best to ensure ease in doing businesses and make Pakistani industries more competitive especially in the region.
He also assured that tanners would be duly supported through Export Development Fund (EDF) for their participation in international trade fairs, and research and development activities.
He advised PTA members to come up with well-planned research and development projects to seek funds from EDF and also clarified that EDF is not meant for financing recurrent expenses of any research or development facility.
The commerce minister informed PTA members that there would be no permanent seat of any trade association in EDF board.
Every potential association contributing to the country’s exports would be included in the board on rotation. Now, new set up would come up for the year 2015-16.
He said that very good results have been achieved from GSP-plus during ten months of 2014 (up to October) with additional exports of dollars one billion against the same target set for the whole year of 2014. High results are expected in future.
He said that GSP-plus facility is awarded for ten years, up to 2023. However, before the expiry of this period, he said “We would try to sign free trade agreement with the European Union.” He said Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif had set up a treaty implementation cell for complying with 27 conventions linked to GSP-plus facility through sensitising all the provinces as well. Some provinces have shown good progress on this account. Next week, EU team would visit Pakistan and we would have further deliberations on the GSP-plus, the Commerce Minister said.