Lahore- Focus on investment in energy solutions, incentives to improve export and enforcement of law and order top the proposals put forward by the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan for budget 2013-14. 

“Lowering of markup rate to 6 per cent for exports inline with regional parity, reduction in Export Withholding Tax on Export Remittance to 0.5 per cent from 1 per cent and removal of Withholding Tax on local sales of rice would help achieve rice growth targets set for the next fiscal year, besides easing commodity price in the country,” said Reap vice chairman Samee Ullah Ch.

The rice exporters urged the federal government to ask the central bank to bring down its key policy rate to 6 per cent from the current 9.5 per cent to spur economic growth and to make interest rates regionally competitive.

“The current discount rate is still very high and discouraging investment, upgrading and product diversification plans,” he said The interest rate should not be higher than 6 per cent for the sake of expansion in investment activities and for creating jobs for the millions of young people entering the job market every year, he said.

In order to tackle the energy shortages, maximum funds should be allocated for construction of dams or water reservoirs, tapping of Thar Coal, completion of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline and establishment of LNG terminals.

Reliance on costly thermal power has been jacking up the cost of production and the import bill as well. “The country is in dire need of an urgent shift in its energy-mix in favour of hydel power and local fuels. Use of biogas should be promoted throughout the rural sector both for electricity generation and gas for cooking besides producing bio fertiliser.

Commenting on high Export Financing rates, he said that in the wake of high inflation, soaring tariffs of utilities and manifold taxes, the lofty export financing rates will multiply the cost of manufacturing and doing business.

Samee expressed surprise that the government is well aware that a major chunk of our export has faced a downward trend, firstly, due to negative perception of Pakistan in the eyes of western world especially Europe and America.