To check import bill

85

ECONOMIC Coordination Committee of the Cabinet (ECC) on Friday imposed and enhanced Regulatory Duty (RD) on around 297 items in a bid to discouraging the surge in import bill and slashing it down by $3 to $5 billion during the current fiscal year. To curtail imports, the Committee, chaired by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, approved imposition of RD on new 97 luxury items.
We understand that the decision was long overdue given the rising trade deficit which has created multiple problems for the government. The decision was also inevitable in order to protect and promote local industry and save it from the onslaught of the products of other countries especially India and Iran which are flooding our markets. Whilst we welcome the move, it is also imperative that the RD is not imposed on food and essential items but only the luxury items. Responsibility also rests with the consumers to purchase local products rather going for foreign brands and items. Citing just one instance when our local industry is preparing different varieties of oil like almond, coconut etc then why do our consumers need to buy the Indian products. In fact when their demand will go down, the products will also automatically stop entering our market either legally or through smuggling. The trade balance remained negative and stood at $6.29 billion for the first two months of current fiscal year. In order to reduce the deficit, the government also needs to take some extraordinary steps to bolster the country’s exports after taking on board the relevant stakeholders. Whilst we see government announcing packages for different industries, the need is that these are also implemented in letter and spirit with full transparency. The sorry state of our exports can be gauged from the fact that these have gone below to the annual remittances being sent by overseas Pakistanis. We need to bring in much needed value addition in our products instead of exporting only the raw material. For instance instead of exporting fresh fruits, exporting their dried slices in packets, the country can easily double its annual earnings from fruits. So with right kind of interventions in industries and technology, the government can achieve the set targets in exports.