Senate panel defers legislation on salt exports

Published December 5, 2023
Senate Standing Commi­ttee on Commerce holds a meeting on Dec 4 in Islamabad. — Senate website
Senate Standing Commi­ttee on Commerce holds a meeting on Dec 4 in Islamabad. — Senate website

ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Commi­ttee on Commerce has decided to postpone a proposed legislation that would prohibit the export of unprocessed salt in a move to bolster domestic value addition.

The committee headed by Senator Zeeshan Khanzada has directed that all relevant parties provide constructive recommendations to promote value-added exports. A private bill was moved proposing a ban on the export of raw salt which was defe­rred for the time being.

The country’s exports of raw salt are between $30 to $50 million per annum.

Deputy Chairman Mirza Muhammad Afridi said that Pakistan possesses the world’s largest and most pure rock salt reserves. He mentioned that this commodity has an estimated annual market of billions of dollars, which is further growing on an annual basis.

Discusses kinno exports, strategy for TCP debt repayments

He suggested that it would be unwise to impose a ban on its export from the country. He suggested that the ministry should involve all stakeholders to assess the current level of value addition in salt exports from the country.

The committee decided to defer the matter and to hold meetings with all stakeholders on the legality of the amendment.

Kinno export

The committee received an update on the steps being taken to boost the export of kinno. It was informed that the main markets for the fruit’s exports are Afghanistan, UAE, Russia, Philippines, Kazakhstan, and Indonesia.

Unfortunately, last season saw a dip in kinno exports due to flooding. However, the ministry is optimistic and has set an ambitious goal of $150 million in exports for the current season.

TCP debt repayment

The committee has been deliberating on a strategy to address the debt repayment issues faced by the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) to various government bodies.

This includes the repayment of commercial bank loans and their respective interest. The committee was briefed on the current debt and liability status, which stands at a principal Rs105.512bn and an interest of Rs153.744bn, bringing the total debt to Rs259.256bn.

Free car imports

The committee also deli­berated on the issue of duty-free import of cars up to 1350cc for disabled individuals. Senator Abdul Qadir, who brought up the issue, argued that disabled persons should be permitted to import used cars, as new ones are often unaffordable for many.

The committee was informed by officials that the Ministry of Industries and Production and the FBR have placed restrictions on the import of used cars for differently-abled persons. However, they clarified that such individuals are allowed to import new cars up to 1350cc without paying customs duty once every 10 years.

The committee proposed that differently-abled persons should be allowed to import used cars up to 1500cc once every five years. The matter of sales tax exemption was referred to the Senate Finance Committee for further consideration.

Published in Dawn, December 5th, 2023

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