Islamabad ( ) In order to optimize the tax collection and broaden the tax base, the government should re-introduce the fixed tax regime for the marble industry on the pattern of the Tier-2 retailers from whom the sales tax is charged through electricity bills. This was stated by Muhammad Shakeel Munir, President, Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI). He said that effective from June 2016, the marble industry was paying a fixed sales tax @ Rs.1.25 on per unit of electricity consumed as a final discharge of its net sales tax liability to the extent of marble and granite manufacturing, grinding and polishing process. However, Finance Act 2020 abolished this regime and the marble industry is now subject to the normal sales tax @ 17% due to which the growth and expansion of this industry is suffering. He stressed that the government should re-introduce the fixed tax regime for the marble industry in the next budget that would pave the way for its better growth and increase overall tax collection from this sector as people would willingly pay the fixed tax.
Muhammad Shakeel Munir said that according to a research study, Pakistan possessed over 292 billion tonnes of indicated marble reserves and 99 percent of them existed in many areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) including Buner, Mardan, Swabi, Nowshera, Mansehra, Malakand and Chitral districts. He said that substantial investment was required for developing a mine as per international standards and emphasized that the government should devise a mechanism to provide financial support to the investors of the marble industry so that they could import the required equipment & machinery for producing value-added marble products and boost their exports.
ICCI President said that the roads in the marble extraction areas are not properly developed and the scale of necessary infrastructure such as electricity, colonies for the workers and transportation arrangements are not sufficient. Due to this situation, the transportation costs of blocks from quarries to processing units increase considerably the production cost, which ultimately affects the market trends. He stressed that the government should look into these issues of the marble industry to address them so that this industry could grow fast and play a more effective role in the economic development of the country.
Jamshaid Akhtar Sheikh, Senior Vice President and Muhammad Faheem Khan, Vice President ICCI said that lack of research & development culture in the mining sector is another major problem of this sector as proper coordination existed between the R&D organizations and the industry. They urged that the government should cooperate in setting up R&D facilities for the marble industry that would go a long way in promoting this important industry and increase its contribution in the development of the national economy.