The Senate Standing Committee on Finance has recommended a uniform rate of customs values for assessment of customs duty on the import of fruits from all regional countries including Iran and Afghanistan. During the committee proceedings here on Thursday at the Parliament House, FBR Chairman Nisar Muhammad Khan said that 35 percent duty/taxes are applicable on the import of fruits from Iran.
Customs duty of 20 percent is applicable on the import of fruit whereas 15 percent RD is also applicable at the import stage. In case of Iran, the import value of apples has been raised from Rs 27 per kg to Rs 46 per kg for calculation of duty at import stage.
He said the FBR has collected Rs 65 million duty on the import of fruits during 2015-16 against Rs 60 million in 2014-15. Total import of fruits stood at 10,754 Metric Tons (MT) in 2015-16 against 10,368 MT in same period of 2014-15. Due to imposition of RD on the import of fruits, the FBR has collected Rs 18 million RD on import of fruits in 2015-16 against Rs 9 million in 2014-15.
He said the imports of vegetables and fruits have substantially declined from Iran due to imposition of the regulatory duty on fruits. The value of imported fruits as well as duty structure has been increased. When asked if importers of fruits can change route from Iran to Afghanistan to enter in Pakistan, he said fruit is a perishable item which cannot be smuggled through long routes of borders.
Fruits and vegetables are freely importable in the country under Import Policy Order 2013. In order to protect the local producers, fruits are subject to maximum slab of customs duty, ie, 20 percent. Beside this, regulatory duty @ 10 percent was also levied on import of fruits which has been increased from 10 percent to 15 percent w.e.f. 1st December 2015.The minimum assessable value of Iranian Apple has been increased from Rs 27 to Rs 46 percent per kg in order to protect local production of Apples. Though, vegetables, being socially sensitive, are subject to zero percent rate of duty at the time of import.
As far as the clearance of fruits/vegetables imported from Iran is concerned, the field formations of the FBR will ensure proper examination and assessment of the fruits and vegetables at the time of import. To prevent smuggling of these items necessary possible measures have been put in place, however, instructions to further boast these efforts are being issued.
As far as the apprehension that fruits/vegetables of Iran origin may be imported via Afghanistan, the same may not be feasible due to perishable nature of these items and geographic distance involved for such a route. In any case even on imports of fruits from Afghanistan rate of customs duty has been enhanced from 5 percent to 10 percent in the Finance Act, 2015.
Measuring of proper weight at Torkham and Taftan is being ensured, however, monitoring for any misdeclaration of quantity or value will be further enhanced. The EDI (Electronic Data Interchange) with Afghanistan is also being established for better exchange of data/information to prevent any misuse of the trade regime between two countries.
The data shows that there is no abnormal surge in the import of vegetables or fruits. In fact import quantity of vegetables from Iran has declined drastically (-91 percent) in the current financial year (July-December) compared to the same period of previous financial year, he added.
The committee members suggested that there should be only one uniform rate of duty on the import of fruits from Iran and Afghanistan. It could be 10 or 15 percent. To a query on the rate of duty on the import of fruits from China, the FBR chairman said that the similar rate of 20 percent duty would be applicable on the import of fruits.
Source: Business Recorder