Pak PM asks for cuts in duties, taxes to bring down food prices
ISLAMABAD, Mar 22: Taking notice of high prices of perishable products, Prime Minister Imran Khan has asked the Federal Board of Revenue to come up with a summary for reducing duty and taxes on eatables to bring down prices of essential commodities.
The direction came from the premier at a time when the government is working on various fronts to make sure availability of essential food items in the country amid rising coronavirus cases.
A senior official in the Federal Board of Revenue confirmed to Dawn that a team of tax officers are compiling a list of essential food items, which will be submitted to the federal cabinet on Tuesday for consideration.
Last month, finance ministry had also tasked the National Tariff Commission to compile duty structure including regulatory duties (RD) on essential food items which have led to an increase in domestic food inflation.
Most of the unprocessed essential food items are exempted from the customs duty. "We have already informed the relevant department that there is no customs duty on raw food items," the official said.
Contrary to this, the FBR collects sales and withholding taxes (income tax) on import stage. There are also some regulatory and additional customs duties on certain items to discourage its imports for the benefits of local farmers.
As per the FBR list, it is collecting 5.5 per cent income tax on import of tomatoes while there is no customs duty or sales tax on the vegetable. However, on the import of onion, the government charges 20pc sales tax and 5.5pc income tax only.
On potatoes, the government collects 25pc additional customs duty, 17pc sales tax and 5.5pc income tax on import. Similarly, the government imposed 60pc RD on wheat, 25pc on wheat flour, 40pc on sugar and 5pc on boneless bovine meat (frozen). There is also around 2pc income tax at import stage on pulses. -Reuters