SECRETARY Commerce Younus Dhaga has said the government is considering imposition of regulatory duties to discourage non-essential imports in the country after it recently slapped levies on them. Late last year, the government imposed regulatory duties on non-essential and luxurious items, which are expected to save the country around $2b during the current fiscal year of 2017-18. He added that import of goods, which are already manufactured in the country, would not bode well for the industry.
It seems the government is clueless about the real problem afflicting the foreign trade of the country. For the last four years, stress has been on reduction of duties and as a result Pakistan became a dumping ground for all sorts of foreign goods and as a result the trade deficit has assumed alarming proportions. Pakistan has very limited foreign exchange reserves but we are lavishly spending on import of luxurious and non-essential items and that too at the expense of our local industry, which is finding it difficult to compete in the face of increasing cost of doing business. Abbasi government deserves credit for increasing duties on several hundred items but regrettably it left out those that concern the common man and only tried to please some powerful lobbies. In the first place, why duties were imposed on raw material used for local manufacturing of different items including those meant for export. Then what is justification for imposing or increasing taxes on food items like milk powder, which is used by almost every home in the country. We believe that the best way to discourage imports would be to impose heavy duties on luxurious items, cosmetics and all sorts of textile products. Similarly, the government should offer incentives for exports and best incentive would be to lower the cost of doing business by reducing electricity and gas tariff. Duty-drawback is widely being misused and there is dire need to do away with the scheme. We should instead go for no duty, no drawback.