LAHORE: To expedite and accelerate the pace of ongoing trade with India through Attari-Wagah border, Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called for an early implementation of a well-tailored and well thought-out Integrated Border Management system at Wagah in consultation with all the public and private sector stakeholders.
The call was given by the LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari while presiding over the first-ever meeting of Wagah Border Trade Facilitation Working Group constituted by the LCCI here. Punjab Board of Investment and Trade (PBoIT) Director General (Policy & Projects) Ali Pirzada, Director Dry Ports of National Logistics Cell retired Brigadier Nadeem Iqbal Raja, Pakistan Standard and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) Deputy Director Conformity Assessment Dr Khurram Muneer, CEO of M/s Razziq International Nadeem Khan, Chairman of LCCI Standing Committee on Pak-India Trade Promotion Aftab Ahmad Vohra and Ms Nasira Taskeen gave their respective points of view on as to how the impediments to the two-way trade could be removed.
Lashari said that LCCI wanted of the government to introduce a new management system without any further delay so that the trade between Pakistan and India could flourish. He said that since the present government had clearly given its view on business with regional countries particularly trade with India, all the concerned public and private sector entities should be on same page so that a collective approach and a collective wisdom could be applied to put Pak-India trade vehicle in top gear.
Engineer Sohail Lashari was of the view that that dry ports should be activated instead of managing trade activities at border. Trucks should be given access to dry ports to complete the procedural formalities before going to border terminal to avoid long queues. He also emphasized to have a complete computerized system at both sides of the border for an effective liaison and smooth and efficient services.
LCCI President said that in Amritsar large hotels are being constructed as Indian government expects an influx of businessmen and tourists from Pakistan. Similarly, Government of India had also formed the “Land Port Authority” for regulating and facilitating the trade through land routes. Keeping in view, the importance and worldwide recognition of regional trade, Pakistani government should also develop required infrastructure at the border terminal. “The two governments have announced to keep the border open 24/7 for trade and business. Therefore, it is as well crucial to take immediate steps for creating a trade enabling environment at the Wagah border.”
Director General (Policy & Projects) of PBoIT, Mr. Ali Pirzada said that the PBoIT should have a permanent office at the border terminal to facilitate the businessmen.
PSQCA Deputy Director (Conformity Assessment) Dr Khurram Muneer said that the PSQCA was in the process of setting up its laboratories at the Wagah that would be completed soon.
Aftab Ahmad Vohra pointed out lack of infrastructure and scanning facilities at Wagah. He said that presently there is a list of 137 items which are tradable through land route and this list is going to be increased to 500 items very soon, it will become much difficult for the terminal staff to handle more variety of goods at the terminal. He also proposed that instead of scanning all the goods going across the border the search should be done randomly to save time.
He also proposed that a trust should be formed like Karachi Port Trust to handle the operations at Wagah trade terminal while the security arrangements could be handed over to any law enforcement agency like Pakistan Rangers.
Director of Dry Ports of National Logistics Cell, retired Brigadier Nadeem Iqbal Raja said that a Master Plan for the development of the Wagah trade terminal is ready and as soon as the funds are released by the government the plan would be executed. He said that strict security is maintained for the safety of goods lying in the terminal as any miscreant could damage the goods lying there while respectable businessmen are and will be allowed entry into the terminal although the WeBOC system of customs does not need any physical presence of the importer/exporter there.
In his concluding remarks, the LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari said that the set of suggestions would be forwarded to the Ministry of Commerce for implementation to turn Pak-India trade hassle free.