As per sources, it has been reported that the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) has asked the government to exempt the rice export sector at least from sales tax, as the sector had not been granted zero rating, Despite being the second largest foreign exchange earner of $2.2 billion annually. In this regard, while submitting few proposals for the revival of the sector, REAP Chairman Mr Shafique Chaudhry narrated on Sunday that in view of decline in rice exports from Pakistan, the of Pakistan should consider the export performance singly, instead of twice, for export refinance scheme. It was also revealed that for the last couple of years, constant decline was being noticed in the export of rice due to low prices in the international market and lot of other factors, which caused huge losses to the rice exporters. Further, Mr Shafique demanded that the withholding tax of 1.5 percent be withdrawn and the exporters should not be treated as the withholding agents for local sale, as it was stated.
Furthermore, it was also demanded exemption from duties and taxes on the import of rice machinery ,on processing and husking plant, besides ERF rates for the rice industry may also be brought down to 3.5 percent at par with the textile sector. The REAP chairman described that income tax was being charged on electricity bills, which was not being refunded either. Such type of doubles taxation on exporters must be removed immediately as it was demanded. Moreover, he also expressed disappointment over what it was called the step-motherly treatment of the rice export industry by the government, adding that the sector had been completely neglected in the federal budget of 2016-17. Meanwhile, the REAP had sent many recommendations for the enhancement of rice exports, which were not considered by the federal government .Even a very important suggestion regarding One Window Operation for the collection of all taxes was also ignored by the Government.
In the demands, it was alleged that despite very challenging circumstances for the last couple of years, rice exporters were making untiring efforts for the growth of country’s economy and various government departments, such as FBR, EOBI, Market Committee, Social Security, WWF etc are harassing rice exporters and unnecessary amounts are demanded . It was told that sales tax refund claims of the rice exporters were also lying pending for long, requesting the government to pay these back at the earliest. Further, Mr Shafique added that he and his colleagues had already requested the prime minister and federal finance minister to declare the rice export sector as a separate industry since rice is the second largest source of earning foreign exchange reserves in Pakistan. However, it is very amazing that the rice sector is not considered for the zero-rated status and added that it will dishearten the rice exporters, who are working day and night for the betterment of exports of our country.It was also emphasized to the government to extend full cooperation to the sector and to give relief to the rice exporters, who had been suffering from heavy losses since many years.