Chairman NTC assures to get numerous issues rectified in Federal Budget 2024-25

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Chairman National Tariff Commission (NTC) Naeem Anwar, after listening to the grievances being faced by the business community due to various anomalies in import/ export tariffs, anti-dumping duties and other countervailing measures, assured that the NTC team in Islamabad will ponder numerous issues highlighted by Karachi Chamber and recommendations will, accordingly, be given to the government for rectifying the same in the Federal Budget 2024-25.

Speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI), he advised KCCI to submit details of all the issues in writing along with budget proposals as soon as possible. “No matter to whom KCCI sends its Budget Proposals in Islamabad, these are all forwarded to NTC for review by the Commission’s technical team, which carefully analyzes, assesses repercussions, and if found favourable for the economy, these proposals are forwarded to the government for inclusion in the budget”, he added.

KCCI President Iftikhar Ahmed Sheikh, Vice President Tanveer Barry, Chairman of the Special Committee for Budget Proposals Muhammad Ibrahim Kasumbi, Former Presidents Majyd Aziz and Junaid Esmail Makda, KCCI Managing Committee Members, and other representatives of various trade bodies also attended the meeting.

Chairman NTC stated that NTC, which operates under NTC Act 2015, was duty-bound to get three of its laws effectively implemented, which include anti-dumping law, subsidies countervailing law and safeguard measures to ensure growth for domestic industry, support manufacturing sector and obstruct unfair trade practices in imports. “We try to ensure a coherent and integrated industrial & commercial policy for maximum economic growth.”

He said that the budget compilation process was currently underway at NTC, and the Commission has been receiving budget proposals from various stakeholders. However, he felt it necessary to visit the Karachi Chamber to have face-to-face interaction with the business community to discuss and better understand their tariffs-related issues and seek suggestions.

To a query, he said that once a case has been approved by NTC, it leads to imposition of anti-dumping duty for a period of five years which may vary from 5 percent to 60 percent which results in discouraging the imports of any specific product to support the domestic industry. “Similar was the case with subsidies countervailing measures as they are also imposed for a period of five years”, he said, adding that thanks to NTC’s anti-dumping and countervailing laws, several businesses have witnessed good growth.

After listening to the hardship being faced by representatives from paper industry, packaging industry, yarn merchants, automobile industry and others, Chairman NTC advised them to sit with NTC team in Islamabad to minutely discuss all the issues being faced by them due to unfair tariffs so that these could be reviewed and relief could be provided wherever needed.

Speaking on the occasion, President KCCI Iftikhar Sheikh, while appreciating the seriousness exhibited by Chairman NTC to amicably resolve issues being faced by the business community, hoped that the NTC would take all recommendations given by KCCI into consideration and recommend the same to the government for rectification in the federal budget which would certainly prove favorable for the economy as KCCI’s budget proposals are purely given in the larger interest of the country.

Chairman Special Committee for Budget Proposals Ibrahim Kasumbi, in his remarks, stated that several issues pertaining to current account deficit, fiscal deficit and other issues being faced by the economy could be easily controlled if prudent measures were adopted by NTC in consultation with stakeholders.

He stressed that although the NTC imposes anti-dumping duties to protect the interest of local manufacturers which was a good thing to do but it has been observed that such manufacturers continue to enjoy monopoly and do not bother to expand their production to cater to rising demand. Hence, some kind of policy has to be introduced to compel manufacturers to stand on their feet by enhancing production and also export some portion of their finished goods whereas the anti-dumping duties should gradually be waived to support others particularly the SMEs.   

Commenting on concessions and exemptions given to tea importers of FATA, PATA and Azad Kashmir, he said that 50 percent of the country’s tea was being imported by four to five importers based in these areas whereas others were subjected to exorbitantly high tariffs as they have to pay 11 percent custom duty along with regulatory duty, sales tax and withholding tax etc. To provide a level playing field, the exemptions and concessions given to FATA, PATA and Azad Kashmir should be abolished to support tax-compliant businessmen who have been paying all the taxes and duties.

He said that NTC’s policy towards the automobile sector also needs to be reviewed as this sector, despite protection, has failed to export even a single unit during the last 40 years whereas a small country like Morocco has been exporting vehicles.

One of the participant from the automobile/ motorcycle spare parts sector pointed out that this sector was subjected to highest tariffs of around 85 percent which was highly unfair particularly in a situation when the local manufacturers have the production capacity of hardly 40 percent and their finished goods were mostly being provided to manufacturers only while the aftersales market, which purely depends on the imports, has shifted to illegal channels as spare parts are widely being smuggled into the country. Hence, the exorbitantly high taxes and duties must be drastically brought down to encourage legitimate trade and discourage smuggling.

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