Govt undecided on reducing import duty on bulletproof vehicles

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ISLAMABAD – The government remains ambivalent on reducing duty and other taxes on the import of bulletproof vehicles amid serious threats to the life of prominent politicians and religious leaders of the country from terrorists.
According to sources in the ministries of Interior and Finance, the proposal to reduce duty and taxes was forwarded by Senator Waqar Ahmad Khan a few months ago after he received threats when as a federal minister. Waqar, as privatisation minister, had made the proposal in a meeting of the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC).
However, the ECC referred the matter to the federal cabinet since it was not purely an economic matter but also involved political and security aspects. The cabinet discussed the issue in detail but stopped short of approving it because of financial constraints, saying it could not afford to provide bulletproof vehicles to all ministers.
Another proposal was however put forward that ministers who wanted to import such vehicles be allowed to, and the Interior Ministry and Finance Ministry would “facilitate” them by issuing no-objection certificates and imposing nominal duty and taxes on the import. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani had also announced that the government would facilitate the import of bulletproof cars for members of the Balochistan Assembly, who were facing threats to their lives.
Later, Gilani announced the formation of a sub-committee of the cabinet to discuss the proposals further and said the sub-committee would work out a feasible plan. A source in the government told Pakistan Today on Sunday, however, that the PM neither formed the sub-committee nor gave any further instructions on the issue, so the matter was still pending and no decision had been made.
The government had been considering providing bulletproof vehicles to federal ministers since the attack on Religious Affairs Minister Hamid Saeed Kazmi, in which the minister and his bodyguard were wounded and his driver was killed, but the government could not carry out its plan because of financial constraints.
The assassination of former minorities affairs minister Shahbaz Bhatti also highlighted the need for bulletproof cars, particularly for those on the hit-list of terrorists.