SBP agrees to clear import invoices up to $50,000: FPCCI

Our Correspondent
Thursday, Sep 22, 2022

KARACHI: The central bank has agreed to clear/settle backlogged payments within two days that fell under chapters 84 and 85 of the customs tariff, if invoiced values were up to $50,000, an apex trade body said on Wednesday.

Irfan Iqbal Sheikh, president Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) said the body has been working relentlessly over the past couple of months on the issue of delayed clearance of dollar payments of importers.

“…finally after multiple detailed rounds of consultative sessions between FPCCI & SBP (State Bank of Pakistan), the central bank has agreed, in principle, to at least release all payments in the range of $50,000 or less.”

FPCCI Senior Vice President and focal person on SBP-related matters, Suleman Chawla informed that he has also released an official notification from FPCCI on the development to inform all members of the apex body and stakeholders of the lingering issue.

He added that FPCCI has been receiving numerous calls each day for the past couple of months from across Pakistan and across various sectors affected by the restrictions – which were also impacting raw materials and equipment falling under chapters 84 and 85.

He said that FPCCI was expecting that all payments falling under the aforementioned category would be cleared within this week.

Chawla reiterated that the commercial importers and manufacturers have suffered a lot due to the restrictions as these were announced abruptly and without any homework or consultation.

“Authorities should have been meticulously selective in implementation of the restrictions to only luxury items; which, in turn, would have saved the business community millions of dollars in demurrages, container charges and lost export orders,” the focal person added.

The SBP, last week clarified that there is no restriction on import of raw material for any industry. “It is clarified that there is no restriction on the import of raw material for any industry including export-oriented industry,” the SBP said in a statement.

The SBP also advised banks, through EPD Circular Letters No. 9 and No. 11 of May 20, 2022 and July 5, 2022, to seek prior permission before initiating transactions for import of Motor Cars (CKD), Mobile Phones (CKD) and machinery (falling under HS codes Chapter 84, 85 and certain codes with prefix 87).

Keeping in view the concerns of the industry, SBP and the federal government, in consultation with the relevant stakeholders have devised a mechanism to accommodate import by different sectors/industries i.e. automobiles, mobile phones, home appliances, tractors, 2 and 3 wheelers, transformers and switchgear, auto parts manufacturers, telecom operators and exporters.

The SBP has already approved more than 7,000 cases till date. “The delays in approval are caused sometimes because of submission of inaccurate or insufficient information to SBP,” it added.