At a time when the Pakistan government is trying to overcome the ongoing fiscal crisis that grips the country, it appears that the national exchequer lost an estimated $6.09 million in taxes on apple imports during the last season alone.
According to the Sales Tax Act 1990, imports of edible goods from Afghanistan are exempt from tax collection, whereas other countries have to pay 17% per kg as duty on their exports to Pakistan, including the apples imported from Iran.
It has, however, been learnt that traders have been avoiding taxes by documenting Iranian apples as imports from Afghanistan. Apples are sent from Iran to Afghanistan and later are exported by Afghan traders to Pakistan.
“Apples from Iran are smuggled to Pakistan and documented as imported from Afghanistan to avoid 17% duty,” a senior official responsible for collecting tariffs told The Express Tribune. The official, who requested anonymity, stated that mafia has been involved in the ongoing mega-tax dodge.
The statistics obtained carry details of only one season of apples from Afghanistan, beginning from November 2019 until December 2, 2019, which showed that an estimated 1,750 trucks full of apples, carrying an average of 27 metric tons or 27,000 kg of the fruit per truck, were cleared into Pakistan.