ISLAMABAD: The performance of the Commerce Ministry has been impressive under the leadership of Federal Commerce Minister Eng. Khurram Dastgir so far but there is always room for improvement and the Ministry has to focus on the enhancement of trade. There is a dire need for hard work to explore new venues to boost exports and cater to the modern-day challenges.
Senator Karim Ahmed Khawaja, Convener Sub-Committee of the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce expressed the views during an exclusive interview with Customs Today.
The PPP lawmaker regretted the slump in the textile industry, saying that the textile industry had slid into recession due to various factors including the crippling energy crisis, adding that capable and potential leadership always capitalised on opportunity whenever it cropped up to bring in benefits for the country’. He suggested that there should be close liaison among the Interior, Foreign and Commerce ministries with chambers and overseas Pakistanis to work collectively for the betterment of trade and enhancement of exports.
“Such an idea will help develop an atmosphere for work on a multiple disciplinary concept to create a trustworthy environment for traders and international buyers, culminating in windfall of exports,” the Senator elaborated. Karim Ahmed Kh declared that the committee had sent its recommendations to the Prime Minister in this regard and expressed the hope that the Premier would definitely give it due consideration.
“Look, for the common good and prosperity of the country, we can also work by taking Pakistani embassies in foreign countries along and make them to work in line with the Interior, Foreign and Commerce ministries, chambers and overseas Pakistanis to earn more and more foreign exchange for the country,” Karim Ahmed Khawaja pointed out. By declaring embassies a stakeholder, all these tiers could work in a befitting manner to produce maximum out of this multi disciplinary development concept for the good of the country.
The Senate sub-committee convenor emphasised that it was the prime obligation of the Commerce Ministry to get in touch with all Pakistanis living in every nook and cranny of the world to bring in foreign direct investment (FDI) and shore up foreign reserves. Alas, nobody paid any attention to this potential sector and had been ignored constantly.
He stressed that there existed vast potential for enhancing exports and strengthening bilateral relation with Australia, Far East countries and South America, adding that nobody on the part of the authorities concerned felt the urgency for any such move to boost trade and the government was yet to draw any line in this regard.
“There should be specialised teams of experts for this purpose to introduce our products in these countries and force way to these markets,” Karim Ahmed Kh maintained, adding that it was the need of the hour to explore market in the Caribbean countries to promote national exports. He also underlined the need for independent role of chambers of commerce to attract investors and buyers.
Replying to a question, the PPP Senator informed that Gwadar had been given to China, a time-tested friend of Pakistan and if there was any delay in making the port operational it was from Pakistan side owing to development of the infrastructure, adding that the government should also hand over the development work to China to ensure its timely completion and make the port operational at the earliest.
The Senate sub-committee convenor declared that it was beyond any doubt that certain international powers (without naming) were machinating to destabilize Pakistan to hamper development of Gwadar Port, adding that it did not matter if the government continued working with honesty and enthusiastically the port would be operational at last.
Karim Ahmed Kh regretted that PTI Chief Imran Khan had taken a wrong step when his party stopped the Nato supply in KPK merely for “what he described” playing politics. “Nobody has the right to undermine the country’s prestige and sovereignty for vested interest as international community and foreign friends gave a negative thought to this blockade and caused a trust deficit in the relations with Nato countries,” he claimed, adding that Imran and his party leaders had showed scant regard for democratic norms through their ‘immature act.’
The convenor Sub-Committee of the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce argued that as a matter of fact Taliban were an unnatural force and should be curb through force only as they were not only posing a threat to the country’s security but also had undermined trade and foreign investment in the country. He lauded the government’s efforts for normalisation of bilateral relations including trade with India, adding that it was the vision of Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto to create a friendly atmosphere in the region and develop good ties with all neighbours including India.
“By the way it was Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto who first organised Saarc conference in Pakistan to bring together regional leadership to find ways for regional prosperity,” he recalled, adding that there was still need for a lot more work to be done in this regard and new venues should be explored to strengthen trade ties particularly with India.
Karim Ahmed Kh declared that the clearance of stuck cars would help to enhance revenue and was a good step taken by government, adding that there was a dire need for enhancing revenue by broadening tax net which was a hard nut yet to be cracked.
“Look, apart from administrative and political factors that have been affecting revenue collection, rampant cross-border trafficking has been taking its toll on the revenue collection,” the Senator averred, adding that effective surveillance and tangible measures required to curb the menace to let the revenue flourished.