ENVIRONMENT SURCHARGE

NBR set to drop brick kilns from list of polluting industries

Jasim Uddin

The National Board of Revenue is set to exclude hundreds of brick fields from the list of polluting industries for surcharge imposition due to contradiction in the definition of industry and establishment specified in the law and rules, officials said.
Hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centres may also be excluded from the list on the same ground.
The Finance Act 2014 says only the polluting ‘industries’ would be slapped with 1 per cent surcharge but the NBR has framed the environment safety surcharge collection rules under the act saying that the surcharge would be imposed on polluting ‘establishment’.
NBR officials said that the NBR initially listed 2,498 entities like garment, textile, leather and pharmaceutical units, ship breaking yards, brick kilns, hospitals and diagnostic centres as polluting entities as per a list provided by the Department of Environment.
But, as per the current industrial policy brick kilns are not defined as industry while hospitals and diagnostic centres are branded as ‘service industry’.
In this context, the revenue board recently asked the DoE for providing a revised list containing only the names of polluting industries, another NBR official said.
‘Without doing any further delay, we want to start the process of collecting the surcharge as amending the law is a time consuming process,’ he said.
Legal complexity may arise if the revenue board issues gazette notification containing the names of brick kilns, which are the highest in number in terms of polluting entities, for collecting environment surcharge in line with the rules, a high NBR official told New Age.
There were 924 brick fields on the list of the DoE.
The gazette will not stand if anybody challenges it in court as the surcharge was imposed on only industries through the Finance Act, he said.
Hospital, clinic and diagnostic centre may also exclude from the list as these are not producing any products rather they provide services, officials said.
According to the law and rules, surcharge will be imposed on the total prices of products produced by the polluting industries and there is no mention of services in the law and rules, they said.
In the DoE list, there are 200 hospitals including government hospitals, clinics and diagnostic centres from the services industry which pollute the environment.
The left-out sectors will be included later after amending the law, said another official.
He said that the revenue board was also facing some other complexities in issuing gazette notification.
Stakeholders including exporters and government officials are raising questions that many export-oriented industries from textile and readymade garment, leather and pharmaceuticals sectors may be included in the list that may put negative impact on export.
International buyers are now very concern over the environment pollution and they may withdraw their import orders from polluting industries, he said referring the concern expressed by stakeholders.
There will be another problem in amending the gazette regularly as the number of factories will be included or excluded in the list from time to time if any new factory is identified as polluting one or becomes compliant, he said.
According to the DoE primary list, there are 440 factories from textile industry (including printing and washing factories), 255 units of ship breaking, dockyard, steel mills and metal industries, 68 tannery, leather and related factories, 71 rice and jute mills, 57 paper and paper board mills, 32 pharmaceuticals, 25 cold storages, 41 food and agro-processed factories, 41 rubber and plastic factories, 18 chemical factories and 195 factories from other sectors which are also responsible for pollution.

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