KARACHI: Appreciating the government for banning the import of non-essential luxury items, businessmen demanded on Friday that the authorities should swiftly clear the import orders that were placed before the decision.

Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh said the non-clearance of pending orders will be a huge setback for the importers. “They’ll not be able to recover their payments that they’ve already made to exporting partners for the 41 HS Code items in the banned list,” he said.

As per the Import Policy Order 2022, the imports for which a bill of lading or an irrevocable letter of credit was issued before the announcement of an amending order must be exempt from the ban. The government should issue a clarification to end the panic among importers, he said.

The FPCCI chief emphasised that the decision should be implemented meticulously with a breathing period of two weeks to allow for the completion of the already placed orders, he added.

The move will save $600 million over the course of two months and slow down the depletion of foreign exchange reserves while stabilising the rupee’s value against the dollar, he said.

All Pakistan Car Dealers and Importers Association Chairman Mian Shoaib Ahmed told Dawn that members of his body have put on hold the delivery of over 6,000 cars that were to leave different ports of Japan for Pakistan between May 25 and June 4.

About 90 per cent of these vehicles are 660cc cars. The government will lose $40m in tax revenue, he said.

Separately, Air Link Communication Ltd said in a stock filing on Friday that the company is generating most of its revenue through the sale of locally assembled mobile phones i.e. Samsung, Tecno, Xiaomi, Itel and Realme.

“Our imported CBU [completely built units] sales is currently less than 2pc of our top line. We do not see any impact on our business as a result of these import restrictions,” it said.

Korangi Association of Trade and Industry President Salman Aslam said the move will help stabilise the rupee, which has been under pressure for many months.

He said banning non-essential imports was necessary. The country could’ve gone bankrupt had the inflow of foreign goods continued at the same pace, he said. He also urged the government to increase security on national borders to stop smuggling.

Employers’ Federation of Pakistan President Ismail Suttar said the ban may be against the public interest, but it’s crucial for Pakistan’s prosperity.

He said the government should also control the import of energy-related products to improve the balance of payments.

Site Association of Industry President Abdul Rashid said the decision to increase the import duty and

impose a regulatory duty on industrial machinery and related items, including power equipment, should be withdrawn.

The government has taken recent decisions without any consultation with the stakeholders, he said.

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2022

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