Regulatory duty on import of iron and steel products stays, rules Supreme Court

KARACHI: Supreme Court of Pakistan has dismissed the ‘leave to appeal’ application of 121 importers seeking stay against the encashment of bank guarantees submitted by them against provisional release of their consignments.

The court observed that the regulatory duty imposed on imports of iron and steel products does not exceed the rates agreed to by the Government of Pakistan under multi-lateral trade agreements; hence there is no case for issuance of the writ asked for.

The importers were contesting the imposition of Regulatory Duty before the Sindh High Court wherein the court order release of the consignments on submission of bank guarantees equivalent the regulatory duty until the cases was decided.

Later, the High Court dismissed 121 petitions challenging imposition of regulatory duty with an option for the importers to file appeal by September 10,2015.

Subsequently, the Model Customs Collectorate of Appraisement East started encashing the bank guarantees and securities submitted by the importers against provisional release of their consignments.

The importers approached the Supreme Court of Pakistan and would seek ‘leave to appeal’ on September 14, 2015 along with stay against withdrawal of securities/guarantees.

The counsel for the petitioners submitted that the cumulative incidence of customs duties leviable shall not exceed the rates agreed to by the Government of Pakistan under multi-lateral trade agreements.

The counsel maintained that where the duty at the time of conclusion of General Agreement on  tariffs and trade was 5.0 percent, it could not exceed that thereafter.

Raja Mohammad Iqbal appearing for the Customs referred to the relevant tables of tariff and import by product groups contended that the maximum duty agreed to is 75 percent while for the most favored nations the maximum is 35 percent. Therefore, the duties in any form do not exceed what was agreed to by the Government of Pakistan under the multilateral trade agreements.

It may be recalled Sindh High Court dismissed as many as 121 petitions filed by iron and steel importers challenging the regulatory duty on the import of several goods vide amendment to SRO 568(I)/2014. These importers had submitted the bank guarantees equivalent to the regulatory duty against the provisional release of their consignments.

Collector Appraisement West Agha Jawwad, Additional Collector Naeem Akhtar, Deputy Collector Mahwish Shah; Collector Appraisement East Majid Yousafani, Additional Collector Shahab Imam and Deputy Collector Rana Ali Waheed pursued the case and it was due to their efforts the case was so strong that the High Court dismissed the petitions.

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