Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has announced incentives worth Rs180 billion in a bid to boost Pakistan's sagging exports.
He made the announcement at a ceremony attended by members of the domestic business community in Islamabad Tuesday afternoon.
The package includes the removal of customs duty and sales tax on the import of cotton. Customs duty on man-made fibres other than polyester and sales tax levied on the import of textile machinery has also been scrapped.
Under the package, the new duty drawback rates for textile garments will be 7%; textile made-ups 6%; processed fabric 5%; yarn and grey fabric 4%; while sports goods, leather and footwear will be taxed at 7%.
The PM expressed confidence that the package will help achieve the government's objective of export-led growth.
Increase in power generation
During his address, PM Sharif noted that dozens of power plants were being installed under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, while yet more were being financed by the government.
He reiterated the government's objective to ensure availability of cheap electricity on a sustainable basis, adding that 10,000MW of new power generation will be added to the system by next year, and 30,000MW within the next few years.
The PM also said the government has decided to fund construction of the 4,500MW Bhasha Dam using Pakistan's own financial resources. However, the powerhouse on the dam will be built under CPEC, he said.
The PM also announced that Pakistan Railways is being revamped and upgraded with an investment of $8bn, and that it is looking to halve the time it normally takes to travel from Karachi to Peshawar.
He said that planned expansions in the national network of roads, highways and motorways will cost Rs1 trillion and integrate different regions of the country. The projects include a six lane motorway linking Islamabad to Karachi.
The under-construction motorway between Karachi and Hyderabad will also be completed this year, the PM announced.
PM Sharif reminded the gathering that interest rates are currently at their lowest in the country's history, which will facilitate investors in taking up new projects.
Speaking on unemployment, he said he hoped growth in Pakistan’s agricultural and industrial sectors would help absorb unemployment and put Pakistan on the fast track for growth.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar, in his address to the gathering, said the government is providing liberal incentives to the business community and it is now their responsibility to increase Pakistan’s exports significantly.
Minister for Commerce Khurram Dastgir expressed confidence that the new package, coupled with the improvement in the national law and order situation and energy output, would help exporters thrive.
The minister also revealed that Free Trade Agreements are being negotiated with Thailand and Turkey.