SIALKOT-Following pressing demand of Sialkot business community, Federal Minister for Finance Asad Umer has constituted a special committee to find out possibilities with effective recommendations within two months to ensure early functioning of Export Processing Zone (EPZ) Sialkot.

State Minister for Revenue Hammad Azhar will head the “fact-finding” committee.

Asad Umer has expressed grave concern over the miserably situation of Sialkot EPZ and has asked the committee to pinpoint impediments and possibilities for early re-functioning of Sialkot EPZ.

During his recently held meeting with exporters held at Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) here, the Sialkot exporters had urged the Federal finance minister to ensure early functioning of Sialkot EPZ.

President SCCI Khawaja Masud said that the government should announce some trade and export-related incentives for Sialkot exporters at this EPZ.

In Sialkot, Export Processing Zone (EPZ) has been lying non-functional for the last about two decades as it could attract only nine exporters to establish their factories since its establishment.

Most of the Sialkot exporters said that though several incentives are being offered at Sialkot EPZ, it is still hard for them to establish industrial units at EPZ, despite having their commercial plots allotted.

Export-oriented Sialkot’s all main trade bodies including Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) have expressed grave concern over the sorry state of affairs at EPZ.

Meanwhile, President SCCI Khawaja Masud Akhtar has urged the federal and provincial governments to make the EPZ fully functional for the promotion of exports, especially from Golden Export Triangle comprising Sialkot, Gujrat and Gujranwala districts.

The EPZ Sialkot, a joint initiative of Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) Ministry of Industries, Punjab Small Industries Corporation (PSIC) and Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), is located near Sambrial on Sialkot-Wazirabad Road in close proximity of Sialkot Dry Port and Sialkot International Airport.

There were total 881 plots in Sialkot EPZ covering an area of 238 acres. The government had given the responsibility for developing the EPZ to PSIC.

All the plots in EPZ have already been allotted. PSIC is responsible for providing public health and estate management services, whereas EPZA provides the security services.

The Sialkot EPZ was inaugurated in June 2002 and became operational in 2005.

Presently, only nine industrial units are in operation comprising of sports goods, sportswear, surgical instruments, light engineering, etc while 10 new units are under construction.

According to officials concerned, following incentives are available at Sialkot EPZ: Developed land for 30 years, Duty-free import of machinery, equipment and materials, Freedom from national import regulations, Exchange control regulations of Pakistan not applicable, Repatriation of capital and profits, No sales tax on input goods including electricity/gas bills, Duty-free vehicles allowed under certain conditions, Domestic market available to the extent of 20%. Exceptions may be available, Presumptive tax at the rate of 1 percent, Only EPZA is authorized to collect Presumptive Tax at the time of export of goods which would be final tax liability, Obsolete/old machinery can be sold in domestic market of Pakistan after payment of applicable duties & taxes, Defective goods/waste can be sold in domestic market after payment of applicable duties, maximum up to 3 percent of total value, EPZ units allowed to supply goods to Custom manufacturing bonds.

Amazingly, these incentives could not attract the Sialkot exporters to establish their industrial units at Sialkot EPZ.