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Sialkot Export Processing Zone lucrative only for 8 exporters in 14  years

Sialkot Export Processing Zone lucrative only for 8 exporters in 14 years

SIALKOT: The  Export Processing Zone (EPZ) Sialkot had been lying non-functional for the last 14 consecutive years as the EPZ had yet could attract only eight exporters to establish their factories there since its establishment.

Most of the Sialkot exporters said that though several trade and export related incentives were available at Sialkot EPZ, bust it was still very hard for them to establish their industrial units at there. Export- oriented Sialkot city’s all the main trade bodies including Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) have expressed grave concern over the sorry state of affairs at Sialkot EPZ.

Meanwhile, President Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) Fazal Jillani, SVC Mir Alamgir Meyer and Chairman Pakistan Gloves Manufacturers and Exporters Association (PGMEA) Muhammad Younas and SVC Sheikh Ejaz Ahmed Jammu have urged the federal and provincial governments to de-notify or abolish the EPZ Status of Sialkot EPZ or make it fully functional for promoting the exports from Pakistan’s first every Golden Export Triangle comprising Sialkot, Gujrat and Gujranwala districts.

Export Processing Zone (EPZ) Sialkot is 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). It 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 Export Processing Zone (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 been allotted. The 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 8 industrial units were in operations comprising sports goods, sportswear, surgical instruments, light engineering, etc. 10 new units are under construction. The total export from EPZ during 2009-10 was US$ 0.65 million.

According to the concerned officials, 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.

The then Caretaker Prime Minister of Pakistan Malik Meraj Khalid had inaugurated the groundbreaking ceremony of Sialkot EPZ in 1996, while, the then Governor Punjab Lt-Gen(Rtd) Khalid Maqbool had laid the foundation stone of  construction of Sialkot EPZ on  June 22, 2002.

In Sialkot EPZ, only 8 industrial units were operational, while a large area at EPZ (though fully allotted) was still lying vacant. Declaring the whole Sialkot as Export Processing Zone can be only justified if existing facilities are insufficient for establishing new units which doesn’t seem to be, the concerned officials added, who commented following the pressing demand of Sialkot exporters to declare the whole of the Sialkot city as Export Processing Zone (EPZ). With a range of facilities available for export oriented units at Sialkot EPZ, there was hardly any need for declaring the whole of Sialkot as Export Processing Zone, the officials revealed.

On the other hand, while addressing a very important meeting of Sialkot exporters held at Sialkot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI) here, theCollector Customs Sialkot Qurban Ali Khan assured the early activation  and proper functioning of the Export Processing Zone (EPZ) at Sialkot by announcing some lucrative export and customs related incentives to the Sialkot exporters  besides motivating them to come to the Sialkot EPZ  for establishing their factories and industrial units there at this EPZ. All the procedures were being simplified to motivate the Sialkot exporters to come to Sialkot EPZ.

The Collector Customs Sialkot added that the Model Customs Collectorate Sialkot (MCCS) has finalised a multi-phased plan to develop the Sialkot EPZ and MCCS would soon announce some attractive incentives related to exports and customs and MCCS would soon announce a public notice within next couple of days, in this regard. He said that the Sialkot EPZ was presenting a deserted look, as it could lure only seven exporters of Sialkot to set up their factories at Sialkot EPZ during the last 14 years since its establishment in 2000.

Collector added that all the stake holders were being taken onboard to resolve the Sialkot exporters related to Sialkot EPZ. He announced that there would be no de-notification of Sialkot EPZ. He said that the EPZ Law 1980 was now needed to be amended to promote the EPZs in the country.