Duty on cement import waived
By Khalid Mustafa
ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) has allowed the import of cement without withholding tax and customs duty, but imports will continue to be subject to sales tax.
The cancellation of the six percent withholding tax and 25 percent customs duty is meant to rationalise cement prices, which have swelled to Rs 300 per bag, an official who attended the ECC meeting chaired by Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz on Thursday told Daily Times. But sales tax of 15 percent will remain at the import stage. “The import of unlimited quantities of cement from any country has been allowed,” he added.
The ECC also approved an increase in the concession period for hydropower projects in the private sector from 25 to 50 years, the official said. Under the earlier policy, hydropower projects built by private companies on a build operate and transfer basis were transferred to the government after 25 years. With the new concession period, the tariff will be spread over 50 years and so be lower.
The ECC also waived the animal quarantine fee on the import of cattle, buffalo, sheep and goat at the Wagah border crossing. “The government currently charges an animal quarantine fee of Rs 100 per animal. Importers complained that this added up to a lot of money if they wanted to import livestock in bulk,” the official said.
The ECC imposed export duty of 20 percent on raw hides, skins and wet blue leather. The committee deferred a proposal to allow flour dealers importing wheat to export flour to Afghanistan without regulatory duty of 15 percent. The official said that the ECC had set up a committee to consider the proposal. The ECC also decided to release 50,000 tonnes sugar from the reserve stocks of the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) two weeks before Ramzan to stabilise prices during the holy month.
The sugar will be released in consignments of 50 to 500 tonnes to discourage hoarding. It will be released through open tenders that sugar mill owners will not be allowed to bid for, again to discourage hoarding.