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FBR tasked to check ghee, oil supply from tax-break zones

December 23, 2021

ISLAMABAD: National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) on Wednesday tasked Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to check the movement of ghee/cooking oil produced in FATA/PATA as manufacturers, enjoying tax breaks, were supplying these commodities to settled areas to earn lofty profits.

Unsettled over the inclusion of Dalda, an expensive ghee/oil brand, into the Family Budget Survey for calculating CPI-based inflation, the government circles have raised questions as to why other cheap brands were not included in the survey for ascertaining its weightage in the CPI basket.

The Pakistan Bureau of Statistics (PBS) high-ups had always replied back that for bringing any changes in CPI-based inflation methodology, the government would have to conduct a fresh Family Budget Survey for four quarters of a financial year to give weightage on the basis of changing consumption patterns of households. So, nothing could be changed halfway, the PBS high-ups argued.

Shaukat Tarin, Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, presided over the National Price Monitoring Committee (NPMC) meeting at Finance Division.

The NPMC also reviewed the prices of edible oil in the country and directed FBR to monitor the movement of the imported edible oil outside of FATA/PATA to the settled areas.

The government had rescinded SRO 24 of 2006 dated 07 January 2016 and SRO 696 of 2019 dated 29 June 2019 and as a result the commercial importers of edible oil and vegetable ghee including cooking oil were no more liable for payment of fixed FED at Rs1/kg on import of such items.

On the other hand, exemption from sales tax was kept intact at Serial No. 24 to Sixth Schedule to the Act for such importers.

This has created an anomalous situation for commercial importers that were clueless regarding the application of sales tax/FED on local supplies of imported edible oil and vegetable ghee.

Commercial importers would now be required to charge sales tax on local supplies of edible oil and vegetable ghee including cooking oil. Hence, supplies of aforesaid items will be subject to VAT (value-added tax) mode as is applicable for the manufacturing of ghee and cooking oil, including edible oil. It is notable that such sales made to unregistered persons will also be exposed to further tax.

Secretary of Finance briefed the NPMC on the weekly SPI situation, which went up by 0.55 percent during the week under review. The meeting was informed this increase was due to high electricity charges. Whereas SPI for food, transport, and non-food items ticked down by 0.67 percent, 0.27 percent, and 0.02 percent, respectively last week. While reviewing the price trend of essential commodities, Secretary Finance said during the last week prices of 15 essential commodities declined, 19 remained stable, while rates of 17 items showed an uptick.

Secretary Finance also told the meeting that prices of essential commodities including tomatoes, potatoes, chicken (farm), onions, eggs, gur, sugar, and wheat flour registered significant decline during the week.

Prices of onions and tomatoes during the week under review witnessed the same prices as these were three years before, the secretary added.

He further updated NPMC the prices of wheat flour bags remained consistent at Rs1,100/20 kg due to proactive measures of the Punjab, KP governments, and ICT administration. The meeting expressed satisfaction over the availability of sufficient stocks of wheat in the country.

While reviewing the price of sugar, Secretary of Finance said they were on the decline. New stocks of sugar were arriving in the market, which would further reduce the prices, the secretary added.

Tarin expressed satisfaction over the stability in sugar prices in the market and directed Ministry of Industries and Production to build strategic reserves of sugar to avoid price hikes in the future.

The NPMC was also briefed on the prices of pulses that ticked up in the week under review.

In his concluding remarks, Tarin said the government was taking all possible measures to ensure smooth supply of essential commodities throughout the country.