KARACHI: The Salt Manufacturers Association of Pakistan (SMAP) has raised serious concerns over the exclusion of the salt industry from the automatic Faster System for sales tax refunds. This exclusion has resulted in a deadlock for several months, leaving billions of rupees of salt exporters stuck in financial distress. SMAP Acting Chairman, Qasim Yaqoob Paracha, appealed to the government to rectify this situation by incorporating the salt industry into the Faster System, similar to five other export sectors.

In an appeal, Mr. Paracha highlighted that the Faster System ceased receiving sales tax refund claims from the salt industry since August 2023. This abrupt discontinuation is based on the system’s refusal to accept sales tax refund claims, citing Rule 39B of the Sales Tax Rules. Consequently, salt exporters are compelled to file claims manually, exacerbating the financial crisis as payments have been pending for the last six months.

He outlined the challenges faced by exporters, emphasizing that even under the manual procedure, the Faster System requires initial filing before obtaining a rejection message. Despite following these steps, the dues to the exporters remain still unpaid.

The SMAP Chairman criticized the limitation of the automatic Faster System to only five export sectors, considering it discriminatory against other industries. He stressed that all export sectors, including the salt industry, contribute significantly to the promotion of domestic exports. He urged the government to ensure equal facilities for all export sectors to foster economic stability and promote exports collectively.

Qasim Yaqoob Paracha urged the government to promptly address SMAP’s request and expedite the release of sales tax refunds pending for the last six months. This action is crucial to alleviate the capital shortage faced by exporters, enabling them to fulfill their export orders as promised and in a timely manner.