Mr. Atif Ikram Sheikh, President FPCCI, has strongly opposed the proposed ban on raw minerals and marble as approved by Senate Standing Committee on Commerce; and, which includes both metallic and non-metallic minerals. This is contradictory to the vision of Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), which has made mines and minerals as one of their only five focus areas, he added.
Mr. Atif Ikram Sheikh categorically mentioned that Pakistan can easily reach a level of $10 billion in exports in minerals and marble, if a facilitative and incentivizing regime for the sector is introduced. Furthermore, the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce should have consulted the business community before proposing the aforementioned ban as the consultative process can help avoid discontentment with the governmental polices and direction.
Mr. Atif Ikram Sheikh outlined the issues faced by mines and minerals sector as duties & taxes on import of machinery; devalued Pak Rupee; lack of financing from commercial banks and inconsistency in industrial policies. He demanded that the supposed piece of legislation should be withdrawn immediately and the government should make arrangements with commercial banks to provide financing to mines and minerals on subsidized rates.
It is pertinent to note that FPCCI held an emergent press conference at its Karachi Head Office on the issue of abruptly restricting and discouraging exports of raw minerals and marble – which employs hundreds of thousands of skilled and semi-skilled workers, including that from rural areas where other sources of employment are scarce.
Mr. Saquib Fayyaz Magoon, SVP FPCCI, demanded that the government should give a framework for the setting up of value adding manufacturing facilities with a deadline of 2 – 3 years as it is virtually impossible to transition to the value addition model overnight. Additionally, mines and minerals sector should be given status of an industry to help facilitate provision of incentives & policy interventions through federal and provincial budgets & policy making.
Mr. Saquib Fayyaz Magoon stated that a lot of credit goes to the exporters of minerals that they are still exporting $1.5 – 2.0 billion worth of products in such unfavorable circumstances. This is the worst point in time to impose any such legislation which can restrict exports of the country and it makes no economic sense as it will further deteriorate balance of payment & current account deficit.
Mr. Zaki Aijaz, VP FPCCI, proposed that FPCCI should write a letter to SIFC and apprise the institution of the distressing news for the entire mines and minerals sector; and, hold a round table to bring all the stakeholders together.
Mr. Shakeel Munir, former President Islamabad Chambers of Commerce & Industry (ICCI), said that the proposed ban has come as a shock to the business community as it was bolstered by SIFC initiatives and was gearing to bring FDI, JVs and industrial collaborations to Pakistan in mines & minerals sector.
Mr. Bilal Khan, VP Mines & Minerals Association of Pakistan, pointed out that the sector is already strained by the most expensive electricity in the region and we do not have the adequate infrastructure as well. Additionally, the sector has been unfairly excluded from the benefits and exemptions of fifth & sixth schedules.