Charging high dollar value for opening LCs irked legislators

Ijaz Kakakhel

The legislators on Wednesday expressed deep concern over rising value of US dollar against Pakistani rupee and they also took notice of charging high dollar rates by commercial banks for opening LCs (letter of credit) for importers.

These discussions were made during a meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on .Finance and Revenue was held at Parliament House while Senator Saleem Mandviwalla was on chair. Discussing difficulties faced by importers due to high dollar rates charged by Commercial Banks for opening LCs, the Committee took strong notice of the matter and stressed the need for measures to address the matter; since the future of industry and trade depended on this. It was asserted that numerous businesses are on the verge of shutting down due to this. Market sentiment has experienced an all-time low. The Committee recommended that a meeting with a single point agenda regarding this matter must be conducted soon.

Matters taken up included exporting of excess foreign currency cash as allowed by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP); SECP data breach; availability of details of registered companies on Dark Web and issue of increased taxes on Mobile phones. Deliberating over details regarding export of excess foreign currency cash as permitted by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), the Committee was informed that SBP issues special permissions to export defaced/small denomination/soiled USD cash notes. In order to carry out exports, it was asserted that Exchange Companies (ECs) have to comply all relevant regulations.

Regarding currency declaration counters established by CAA at all airports in Pakistan where passengers travelling on international routes are bound to declare volume of foreign currencies at both arrivals and departures, the Committee was informed that this was due to existing FATF limits that call for stringent monitoring of Foreign Exchange that is let out of the country. The Committee directed the Ministry to provide details in 15 days after streamlining the process in order to facilitate passengers.

Discussing SECP data breach; availability of details of registered companies on Dark Web, members of the Committee were of the view that the matter had been highlighted out of proportion and that SECP must revamp online security. The Committee was informed that the matter is being investigated and a report will be submitted to the Committee soon.

Reviewing the matter of increased taxes on Mobile phones the Committee was informed that a temporary ban was imposed on the import of mobile phones due to the Current Account situation in the country. However, no new taxes have been imposed. The reason for increase in prices is due to regulatory duties on the recommendation of the National Tariff Commission. It was revealed that regulatory duties imposed are independent of the Money Bill and can be charged any time.

The meeting was attended by Senator Saadia Abbasi, Senator Mohsin Aziz, Senator Farooq Hamid Naek, Senator Talha Mehmood, Senator Kamil Ali Agha, Senator Anwaar Ul Haq Kakar, Senator Zeeshan Khanzada, Senator Faisal Saleem Rehman, Senator Dilawar Khan and senior officers from the Ministry of Finance Revenue and Economic Affairs, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan along with all concerned. Minister of State for Finance and Revenue, Ms. Ayesha Ghous Pasha was present as well.

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