FPCCI slams Senate committee’s move to ban raw minerals and marble exports

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The Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) on Tuesday expressed its strong opposition to the proposed ban on the export of raw minerals and marble, which was approved by the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce last week.

The ban, which covers both metallic and non-metallic minerals, is contradictory to the vision of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), which has identified mines and minerals as one of its five focus areas, said Atif Ikram Sheikh, president of FPCCI at press conference.

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“Pakistan can easily reach a level of $10 billion in exports in minerals and marble, if a facilitative and incentivizing regime for the sector is introduced,” Sheikh said. “Furthermore, the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce should have consulted the business community before proposing the aforementioned ban as the consultative process can help avoid discontentment with the governmental polices and direction.”

The FPCCI chied outlined the issues faced by mines and minerals sector as duties and taxes on import of machinery; devalued rupee; lack of financing from commercial banks and inconsistency in industrial policies.

Sheikh demanded that the supposed piece of legislation should be withdrawn immediately and the government should make arrangements with commercial banks to provide financing to mines and minerals on subsidized rates.

The press conference, held at the FPCCI head office in Karachi, was attended by several business leaders and representatives of the mines and minerals sector, which employs hundreds of thousands of skilled and semi-skilled workers, including those from rural areas where other sources of employment are scarce.

Saquib Fayyaz Magoon, senior vice president of FPCCI, demanded that the government give a framework for the setting up of value-adding manufacturing facilities with a deadline of two to three years, as it is virtually impossible to transition to the value addition model overnight.

He also said that the mines and minerals sector should be given the status of an industry to help facilitate the provision of incentives and policy interventions through federal and provincial budgets and policymaking.

Magoon stated that the exporters of minerals deserve a lot of credit for still exporting $1.5 to $2 billion worth of products in such unfavorable circumstances.

“This is the worst point in time to impose any such legislation which can restrict exports of the country and it makes no economic sense as it will further deteriorate balance of payment & current account deficit,” he added.

Zaki Aijaz, vice president of FPCCI, proposed that FPCCI should write a letter to SIFC and apprise the institution of the distressing news for the entire mines and minerals sector, and hold a round table to bring all the stakeholders together.

Shakeel Munir, former president of Islamabad Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ICCI), said that the proposed ban has come as a shock to the business community, as it was bolstered by SIFC initiatives and was gearing to bring foreign direct investment, joint ventures, and industrial collaborations to Pakistan in the mines and minerals sector.

Bilal Khan, vice president of Mines and Minerals Association of Pakistan, pointed out that the sector is already strained by the most expensive electricity in the region and that it does not have the adequate infrastructure as well.

“Additionally, the sector has been unfairly excluded from the benefits and exemptions of fifth & sixth schedules.”

Source: www.thenews.com.pk