The federal government has decided to allow all consignments that have arrived at Pakistani ports or airports on or before June 30, 2022, as a one-time special permission, sources close to the Secretary of Commerce said.
Following the directions of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Commerce has initiated a summary to ban the import of luxury and non-essential items, in consultation with the Federal Board of Revenue, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Industries & Production.
The ban was imposed under sub-section (1) of Section 3 of the Imports and Exports (Control) Act, 1950 (XXXIX of 1950) by amending the Import Policy Order (IPO), 2022 on Ministry of Commerce SRO 598(l)/2022 of May 19, 2022.
The restrictions were imposed on May 19, 2022.
In order to protect the local industry, the import of raw materials, intermediate goods, and industrial equipment/ machinery required by industrial/ manufacturing concerns and foreign grant-in-aid projects were exempted. The Cabinet approved that the prohibition on import would be reviewed after two months.
However, immediately after the imposition of the ban, several commercial importers and government departments approached the Ministry of Commerce for the release of their consignments.
These consignments were either already paid for, or ready to be shipped, but were delayed due to freight congestion. The ban was imposed on May 19, 2022.
The FPCCI has requested that the imposition of the SRO be deferred, or that held-up/in-transit consignments be released, in order to give businesses ample time to realign their strategies. A number of such consignments have either reached Pakistan and are lying at ports, or are due to reach shortly.
A meeting was held on June 27, 2022 in the office of the Minister for Finance in order to discuss the impacts and issues arising from the ban on the import of non-essential and luxury items.
It was decided during the meeting that a summary for the ECC of the Cabinet may be moved in order to seek permission for the one-time release of consignments of banned items which have reached Pakistan or will reach Pakistan by June 30, 2022, as well as to review the ban.
Based on information from sources, the consignments in question do not meet the requirements of the policy, and are therefore in violation of the IPO. Section 20 of the IPO 2022 allows the Federal Government to waive such violations upon payment of a surcharge or imposing conditions as it sees fit.
The Commerce Ministry has proposed that the ECC of the Cabinet may grant one-time special permission (under Para-20 of the Import Policy Order) for the release of consignments stuck at the ports due to contravention framed under SRO 598(1)/2022 of May 19, 2022 (if otherwise importable under the Import Policy Order).
However, this one-time condonation shall be only for those consignments which have landed at ports or airports in Pakistan on or before June 30, 2022.
Commerce Ministry has formally requested the ECC to allow review of the import prohibition before the prescribed two months’ period decided on May 19, 2022. Commerce Ministry further contends that since the decision to submit this summary was taken during the meeting held on June 27, 2022, in which relevant stakeholders were in attendance; therefore, the necessary consultation required before submission of summary to ECC of the Cabinet has been done.