KARACHI: Legal imports of various edible items including dry fruits and spices are down due to regulatory duty and huge taxation while smuggled goods are thriving, Pakistan Kiryana Merchants Association (PKMA) said on Friday.
In a statement, Chairman PKMA Haji Nadeem-ur-Rehman said smugglers are supplying dry fruits and spices such as cashew nuts, almonds, red chillies, dried coconut, white and black pepper, cloves, etc to all over the country including Karachi.
“These items have not been imported for several months and yet these are readily available in the markets. Smugglers are selling goods for less than the import cost,” he claimed.
As a result, importers are losing millions of rupees while the national exchequer is facing huge losses in terms of revenue.
Smugglers are taking over the markets due to high import duties, he alleged while urging Prime Minister Imran Khan to protect the import sector from total destruction.
Haji Rehman pointed out that the government has closed trade with India but local markets are full of smuggled Indian goods.
Under the guise of Afghan Transit Trade, smuggled goods are being supplied without any tax payments to markets across the country, including Karachi, he claimed.
The PKMA chairman urged the government to take effective measures to curb smuggling and reduce regulatory duty and other taxes on imports so that goods which are not produced in the country can be imported at reasonable cost to meet domestic demand.
According to the data of Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS), import of spices plunged to 45,395 tonnes valuing $53 million in the first four months of this fiscal year versus 48,315 tonnes costing $53m in the same period last year.
In view of high demand, import of dry fruits and nuts improved to 5,807 tonnes ($9.8m) in July-October as compared to 4,996 tonnes ($8.8m) in same period last year. The rupee-dollar parity has so far remained quite stable for the last few months.
However, import of dry fruits and nuts plunged sharply in FY19 to 25,247 tonnes ($43m) compared to 70,219 tonnes ($99.7m) in FY18.
Spices imports in FY19 stood at 138,579 tonnes ($162m) as compared to 135,755 tonnes ($167m) in FY18.
Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2019