‘Saving economy from Covid-9 govt’s top priority’

By Asad Cheema

ISLAMABAD: Adviser to Prime Minister on Finance and Revenue, Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh said Thursday that the government was taking all possible measures to save the people from negative effects of Covid-9 and cope with its negative impact on country’s economy.
Addressing the tax-refund cheque distribution ceremony here, the adviser said that the Rs1200 billion relief package, announced by the government, was particularly focused on achieving three objectives including provision of security, food and cash to deserving people to fulfill their requirements.
He said that the Prime Minister had already inaugurated the Rs150 billion programme under which 12 million families across the country would be given cash, adding that each family would be given Rs12000. He said that one-third population of the country would benefit from this initiative taken by the government in current hard times.
Secondly, the adviser added, the business community was also badly affected by this hostile situation and in order to facilitate this segments of society, the government had taken five big decisions. The decisions including provision of Rs200 billion to those employees who had been badly affected by the situation and were facing unemployment threats or other difficulties.
Secondly, he added, the government had announced Rs100 billion for SME sector employees and owners, saying that currently if they were facing issues in repaying principle amount or interests, they would be given relaxation. Third, he added, Rs100 billion were being refunded to people, particularly businessmen and exporters. While government had also set aside Rs100 billion to bear the effects of deferred payments of electricity and gas bills. He said, people do not need now to pay their bills immediately and they can differ it for three months keeping in view the current situation.
He said that Rs70 billion have been provided by the government to reduce prices of petrol, diesel and other imported oil. He said that the government had also exempted all food products from all types of duties and importantly, it would procure wheat of around Rs200 billion with main objective to ensure the farmers get money so that there was no contraction in economy and the demand for agriculture products is increased.
Talking about the refunds, the adviser said that Rs100 were being refunded in four different ways, including Rs30 billion refunds of Drawback of Local Taxes and Levies (DLTL) through commerce ministry, through FASTER sales tax mechanism under which record refunds have been made to exporters and now Rs10 billion more were being provided under this mechanism.
Likewise, Rs52 billion would be paid as the sales tax refunds to non-exporters, whereas Rs15 billion were being provided in duty drawbacks. The adviser said that this brings the total to Rs107 billion, which is being provided to business community. The adviser said that the process of refunds would be completed within a week. He lauded the efforts of the government led by the Prime Minister, Imran Khan for paying all the sales tax refunds.
‘I want to say to PM that it is contribution of your government that no sales tax refund would remain payable,†and termed it a historic measure taken by the government as there would be now no refunds which were verified and not paid. He said that the federal government was in contact with businessmen and provincial governments, so that the relief package money was being spent transparently and reaches to those who are affected by the Covid-9 hostile situation.