ISLAMABAD: Retired three- and four-star officers of the armed forces will be able to import duty-free bulletproof vehicles of up to 6,000cc under a policy green-lighted by the federal cabinet, but is subject to approval from the premier, an official source told Dawn.

The facility will also be available to all three services chiefs and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee soon after their retirement, the official said but added that a notification had yet to be released.

Whether the facility will be subject to any condition or will it apply to only retired offers remains to be seen. “We cannot share details right now,” the source said, adding that things would be clear once the notification was issued.

The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has delayed releasing the notification after growing criticism on social media over the government’s decision. The notification will now be issued after approval from Prime Minister Secretariat and the finance minister, the source said.

As per the federal cabinet’s in-principle decision, four-star armed forces officers can import two bulletproof vehicles with engine capacity of up to 6,000cc duty-free. Three-star officers will be able to import one duty-free bulletproof vehicle after retirement.

They would not be able to sell these vehicles in the market for five years and without FBR’s approval. But if they want to sell a vehicle before that period, they will need to pay all duties and taxes. Moreover, the import of these vehicles will be linked with the defence ministry’s recommendation.

A well-placed source in the FBR told Dawn the decision was taken with approval from the federal cabinet, which has the authority to waive duty and taxes on anything.

Another source claimed that the decision to allow duty-free bulletproof vehicles was earlier taken by the cabinet in 2019. However, he did not elaborate on why the decision was not implemented even after three years.

The decision was originally taken to allow the facility only to those officers who served in major operations and have security issues after their retirement, the source said, adding the facility was not open to all three-star officers of the armed forces.

A finance ministry official said the IMF would have no issue with the individual’s exemptions. “We have recently revived the exemptions of international organisations as well as diplomats,” the official said.

In 2020, the commerce ministry notified a policy for importing new and used bulletproof vehicles through a notification SRO902 of 2020.

Under that policy, bulletproof vehicles can be imported on the interior ministry’s recommendation, subject to conditions. However, in the present case, the exemption from duty and taxes will be an additional benefit.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2022

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