Remittances up by 7pc

LAHORE: Overseas Pakistanis remitted $2637.27 million in first two months (July & August) of the current fiscal year.

It shows a growth of 7.05 percent as compared to $2463.69 million received during the same period of last fiscal year, said a statement by State Bank of Pakistan.

The inflow of remittances in July-August from Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA, UK, GCC countries including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman and EU countries amounted to $732.50 million, $506.78 million, $448.60 million, $419.74 million, $295.59 million and $74.97 million respectively as compared to the inflow of $657.78 million, $505.80 million, $446.61 million, $334.06 million, $274.09 million and $63.57 million respectively in July-August FY12-13.

Remittances received from Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan and other countries during the first two months of current fiscal year amounted to $159.09 million against $ 181.78 million received in the first two months of last fiscal year.

In August 2013, the inflow of remittances from Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA, UK, GCC countries (including Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Oman), and EU countries amounted to $321.77 million, $254.37 million, $215.54 million, $197.81 million, $134.15 million and $36.38 million respectively as compared to the inflow of $308.12 million, $265.26 million, $231.31 million, $185.57 million, $133.73 million and $32.74 million respectively in August 2012. Remittances received from Norway, Switzerland, Australia, Canada, Japan and other countries during the second month of the current fiscal year (August FY14) amounted to $72.86 million, the SBP statement said.

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‘SROs affecting Sialkot export industry’

SIALKOT: Chairmen of trade unions representing all five zero-rated export-oriented sectors and Sialkot Tax Bar Association have discussed the negative effects of SROs 505(I)/2013 and 98(I)/2013 on export industry with Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) President Sheikh Abdul Majid in a meeting.

The SCCI President told the chairmen that he had pointed out the problems regarding the said SROs in meetings with Finance Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar, FBR Chairman Tariq Bajwa, RTO Sialkot Chief Commissioner and other high-ups of the Board. It was told the meeting that the finance minister and FBR chairman were also requested in writing to give relief to Sialkot export industry but in vain.

Sheikh Abdul Majid, expressing concern on the government’s non-responsive attitude, said that implementation of SRO 505 and 98 had increased the cost of production by five to 10 per cent. He feared that declaring exporters as Sales Tax Withholding Agent would leave the businesses uncompetitive in the global market.

Pakistan Sports Goods Association Chairman Muhammad Iqbal Saleemi, Surgical Instruments Manufacturers Association Chairman Bilal Tanveer, Pakistan Leather Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (North Zone) Chairman Tassawar Hussain, Pakistan Readymade Garments Manufacturers and Exporters Association (North Zone) Chairman Mir Muhammad Farooq Meyer, Pakistan Gloves Manufacturers and Exporters Association Chairman Khurram Azeem Khan, Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association VC Muhammad Rafi Sony were present in the meeting. Aftab Hussain Nagra, President; Zulfiqar Ahmed Nasir, Arshad Nawaz Mann and Waseem Arshad also attended the meeting on behalf of Sialkot Tax Bar Association.

APTMA to hold road shows in European states, US

LAHORE: All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA) Chairman Gohar Ejaz has said that the association will hold international road shows in the European states and the United State.

He said this while talking to the delegation of Lahore Economic Journalists Association (LEJA). APTMA Vice Chairman Wisal Monnoo, APTMA Punjab newly-elected Chairman SM Tanveer, newly-elected Senior Vice Chairman Ali Ahsan and APTMA Committee on International Trade Convenor Amir Fayyaz were also present there.

Gohar Ejaz said that the APTMA is struggling to bring Chinese investment in textile sector of Pakistan. He said the Businessmen Group, during last four years, has achieved an increase of $3.5 billion in textile exports despite the odd circumstances, including energy crisis and high interest rates.

Gohar stated that the industry exports have gained $13.1 billion mark in 2012-13 against $9.5 billion in 2009-10. He said the Businessmen Group has set a target of another $13 billion in next five years that will also generate 10 million jobs in the country.

The APTMA chairman congratulated to the Businessmen Group that has made a clean sweep in the association’s Punjab elections for the year 2013-14. All the six Central Executive Committee Members from Punjab have been elected unopposed for 2013-14.

Trade deficit reduces 11.45pc in August

LAHORE: Pakistan’s trade deficit narrowed by 3.07 per cent during the first two months of the current fiscal year as exports expanded by 3.66 per cent while imports witnessed nominal increase of 0.54 per cent as compared to the same period of last year.

On year-on-year basis, the trade deficit decreased by 11.45 per cent in August 2013 when compared to the deficit of the same month of last year, according to the latest data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS).

The figures show the exports during July-August 2013-14 were recorded at $4.091 billion against $3.946 billion recorded during the corresponding period in 2012-13.

On the other hand, the imports during the first two months of the current fiscal year were recorded at $7.386 billion against $7.346 billion during July-August last year, showing nominal growth of 0.54 per cent.

Based on the figures, the trade deficit during July-August 2013-14 was recorded at $3.295 billion against the deficit of $3.400 billion in the two months of 2012-13, showing negative growth of 3.07 per cent.

Meanwhile, on year-on-year basis, the exports from the country in August 2013 increased by 4.75 per cent to $1.996 per cent when compare to the exports of $1.905 billion in August 2012.

The imports into the country decreased by 3.07 per cent by falling from $3.685 billion in August 2012 to $3.572 in August 2013, the PBS data revealed. Based on the figures, the trade deficit in August 2013 was recorded at $1.576 billion against the deficit of $1.780 in August 2013, showing negative growth of 11.45 per cent.

On the other hand, exports in August 2013 decreased by 4.75 per cent when compared to the exports of $2.095 billion in August 2012. The imports into the country also decreased by 6.35 per cent in August 2013 when compared to the imports of $3.814 in August 2012, according to the data.

The deficit in August 2013 stood at $1.576 billion against the deficit of $1.719 billion in August 2012, showing negative growth of 8.31 per cent.

FTO directs tax officials not to intervene

LAHORE: The Federal Tax Ombudsman (FTO) has directed all the tax officials not to entertain tax-related issues which have already been addressed by the FTO under the Federal Ombudsmen Institutional Reforms Act (FOIRA) 2013.

In this regard, the FTO registrar has issued written instructions to the FBR chairman and asked him to make sure that the legal position is communicated to all the employees including those performing appellate functions, tribunals, courts or authorities administering/adjudicating relevant legislation under the FTO Ordinance, 2001.

A local tax lawyer, explaining the provisions of the FOIRA-2013, said that the Appellate Tribunal Inland Revenue (ATIR) and Commissioner Inland Revenue Appeals (CIR-A) could not exercise jurisdiction to address an issue pending with FTO under complaint or review under the FOIRA. He added that the act would bring comprehensive reforms in the institution of an ombudsman and officials non-compliant with orders might be sent to jail for up to six months.

The lawyer further explained that Section 18 of FOIRA shall reduce unnecessary litigation at dual/multi-forums and authorities in normal appeal hierarchy shall also be restrained from creating parallel litigation.

According to Section 18, no court or authority shall have jurisdiction to entertain a matter which falls within the jurisdiction of an ombudsman, nor should any court or authority assume jurisdiction in respect of any matter pending with or decided by an ombudsman. Further, under Section 24 the provisions of FOIRA shall have effect notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force.

The FOIRA suggests various judicial powers to Federal Ombudsmen of Pakistan including strict action for non-filing of comments by the agency within time given by Ombudsman and disciplinary action, temporary injunction, power of Civil Court to grant stay/temporary injunction and implementation of orders/recommendations by exercising powers of Civil Judge to execute decree against a judgement debtor including arrest and attachment of salary etc, limitation to file Review and Representation and its disposal within specified time.

The office of the federal ombudsman was established in 1983. At present, five ombudsmen are functioning at the federal level in the country. The office is a core institution where the grievances of people are addressed speedily and free of charge.

Sialkot exporters irked by flaws in WeBOC system

SIALKOT: All Pakistan Dry Ports Association (APDPA) Chairman Mohammad Ishaque Butt expressed his deep concern over the serious functional flaws in WeBOC (Web Based One Customs) system.

In a press statement, he said that due to long registration process, just 25 per cent exporters had yet been registered with WeBOC. The former FBR chairman, on his visit to Sialkot Dry Port Trust on March 1, approved the proposals forwarded by the APDPA including suggestions regarding elimination of bottlenecks and other shortcomings in the WeBOC system. The APDPA chairman said, “This is very unfortunate that FBR is not able to remove these flaws.”

He said that Customs Laws and Rules restricted the bonded carriers to use vehicles registered in the name of other bonded carriers with the Customs Department thereby causing somewhat monopolistic situation and exporters/importers might be penalised with excessive freight charges.

Moreover, he said, availability of registered vehicles at up-country dry ports were limited and lesser than the demand for exports and in One Customs system, up-country dry ports were using registered vehicles of other bonded carriers. Exports from Faisalabad and Multan will also be badly affected if rolled over to these dry ports and even at Karachi, where exports vehicles are received, there are a number of teething problems causing slowing down of the process added.

He also expressed his concern over the slow response by the FBR in conflict resolution which results in hoarding the containers at Sialkot Dry Port and a number of export consignments have already missed the vessels caused huge financial loss to the exporters and foreign exchange loss to the country.

He said Sialkot Dry Port Trust General Manager Khalid Butt and APDPA Secretary met with FBR Chairman, Customs Member and related officers of FBR on September 5, and apprised them about the gravity of the matter and discussed in detail the system flaws/shortcomings of WeBOC and necessary amendments in Custom Laws/Rules but besides promise of the FBR high-ups to resolve the issue within couple of days, the issues had not yet resolved resulting in stoppage of sizable exports from Sialkot.

Ishaque Butt and APDPA Chairman demanded that One Customs System be restored forthwith in parallel to WeBOC system till the rectification of issues with WeBOC and incorporation of necessary amendments to the system and Customs Laws/Rules.

FBR chief directs Lahore RTO officers to achieve target

LAHORE: Tariq Bajwa, Chairman of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), has ordered the Regional Tax Office (RTO) Lahore officers to try their best to meet the budgetary target.

He issued these directives while chairing a meeting of the Chief Commissioners of RTO-I, RTO-2, Large Tax Payer Unit (LTU) and other high officers. The meeting discussed changes made in this fiscal year’s budget by the government, and how to generate revenue through these changes.

Member Inland Revenue (IR-Operations) Muhammad Ashraf, RTO-I Chief Commissioner Shafqat Mahmood, LTU Lahore Chief Mustafa Ashraf and RTO-II Chief Dr Muhammad Irshad also participated in the meeting.