Salt manufacturers have demanded that the government exempt table salt from the tax regime as it is an essential food item.

Since 1990, the iodised salt has remained exempted, but the businessmen producing iodised salt from table salt would have to pay sales tax and this would be reflected in the retail price of iodised salt, said Salt Manufacturers Association of Pakistan (SMAP) Chairman Ismail Suttar while talking to The Express Tribune.

He urged Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin to reconsider the tax proposal for salt because it was an essential food item.

Pakistan Businesses Forum Vice President Ahmad Jawad said that the stance of salt producers for relabeling the table salt as edible salt was right.

“However, the federal government may levy GST on all types of salt in an appropriate way, ie not more than 5-6%, so that the government earns revenue and tax burden is shared by all companies, which are in the salt business because in the past we observed that the exemption was utilised for personal benefit.”

Suttar pointed out that table salt was produced from raw sea salt and iodised salt was produced by adding iodine to the table salt.

The law forbids the marketing of table salt and allows only iodised salt for eating purpose.

Therefore, the raw salt, if taxed, will increase the cost of iodised salt and it will be a burden on the common man. Therefore, “raw salt should be exempted from the sales tax regime,” he said.

However, the salt which would be used and supplied as industrial salt may remain taxable because it would not affect the common man, added Suttar.

Earlier during the week, the finance minister delivered a supplementary budget speech in the National Assembly, where he announced several incentives for small businesses, which included Rs100 billion in loans to be provided to the SME sector on 9% markup.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 26th, 2021.

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