ISLAMABAD: The federal government is considering zero-rated facility for the import of wood and timber in the federal budget 2019-20 in a bid to protect and promote forestation.
According to documents available with The Express Tribune, traders linked with wood and timber businesses have recommended the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to provide exemption from customs duty, sales tax, withholding tax and other taxes and duties on the import of timber. They were of the view that this step will serve to protect forests and undo the effects of climate change.
The letter stated that extremely dire consequences of climate change in Pakistan were unfolding, adding that due to unsatisfactory reserve of forest in the country climate changes were increasing rapidly. Floods have become increasingly common, while droughts and seasonal variations are adding to the dangers faced by the national economy.
It has been proven scientifically that forests and trees play an important role in obstructing devastation caused on account of climate changes. The past few decades have witnessed a decline in tree and forestation, as a large number of areas are being cleared out to meet the country’s growing need for timber and wood.
The letter further stated that there is no comprehensive project to promote forests in Pakistan. Permission to cut down the area of forests and trees that exist in the country must not be given. The letter stated that since the current government has been a supporter of protecting jungles and has taken many steps in this regard such as the billion tree project in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, it should prevent the cutting down of forests and trees.
The letter demanded that the government in its next federal budget provide exemption from duty and tax and also provide zero rating facility. It also demanded that permission be given to import wood and timber as these items are included in raw goods and the government’s policy is to promote raw goods so that the local industry can be promoted.
Wood and timber is an important component that is used in the real estate industry and dozens of industries are affiliated with this sector, hence this recommendation should be made a part of the next budget as this will protect the foreign exchange reserves and forests of the country. This will also protect the national economy from dangers of climate change such as floods, drought and seasonal changes.
A senior official of the FBR told The Express Tribune that a recommendation of providing zero rating facility on the import of timber and wood has been received, which is being examined. He added that its cost benefit analysis was being carried out in order to determine its implementation. “All aspects are being examined such as the loss that will be suffered under the exemption from duties and taxes and the advantages that the economy will gain as a result. After examining all these aspects, a decision regarding this recommendation will be adopted.”
Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2019.