Pakistan’s Iron Steel Merchants Association (Aisma) has appealed to the Pakistan government for tax reliefs in order to protect the interests of the sector in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown, media reported on April 16.
Hammad Poonawala, president, Aisma, was quoted as saying that the entire world is reeling from an economic crisis and moving towards a global recession which may be worse than the Great Depression.
The Pakistan steel markets have been completely closed for the past three weeks due to the lockdown imposed by the government.
Importers are facing difficulties related to the banks, which is leading to a liquidity shortfall.
Hence, the Aisma call for structural tax reforms.
Poonawala demanded a reduction in general sales tax rates from 17pc to 9pc, which should be uniform for registered and unregistered buyers.
The Pakistan lockdown is in place till the end of April, though some industries, including the construction sector, have been allowed to operate.
However, the news report, quoting Poonawala, claims that the steel and cement industry has been completely ignored in the relief package for the construction sector.
The country’s annual crude steel production is 4.5-5mn mt as per the World Steel Association’s 2018 figures.
The official figure for 2019 is not yet declared, but is estimated to be around 5.5-6mn mt, with finished steel demand at 7.5-8mn mt.