ISLAMABAD : Federal Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar said on Friday that the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) has approved the reduction in taxes on imported sugar. Hammad Azhar said that the decision will facilitate private sector for sugar import besides bringing improvements in the country’s sugar reserves and availability in markets. The tax volume has been reduced to 1 per cent from 17 per cent, whereas, the value-added tax is reduced to zero from 3 per cent and the withholding tax is fixed up to 0.25 per cent. The renewed taxation policy was approved for a limited period and a specific quantity of sugar import. Moreover, Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) has been directed to take necessary steps and finalisation of tenders within one week, he added. Earlier in the day, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) exempted the import of 300,000 tonnes of sugar from sales and income taxes to bring down the price of sweetener in the country. FBR issued a notification granting the exemption on the import of sugar by a private firm. The notification came following the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet’s approval to import 300,000 tonnes of white sugar to arrest the skyrocketing price of the commodity. “The ECC considered a proposal of the Ministry of Industries and Production for the import of refined sugar by the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) to maintain buffer stocks, and allowed import of up to 300,000 tons of white sugar,” a statement issued by the finance ministry had read. A three-member committee comprising industries and production secretary, commerce secretary and finance secretary was tasked to decide the mode of procurement of sweetener. On July 15, in order to ensure the availability of wheat and flour in the country throughout the year at affordable prices, the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) had directed the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to accelerate efforts for wheat imports. The ECC directed the food ministry to hold meetings with the major importers of wheat at the earliest and come up with proposals. The food ministry briefed the ECC that combined together the Provincial governments and PASSCO have already achieved 79% of their procurement targets while more than 120 importers have so far shown interest to import wheat in the country.
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