According to Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan, a proposed export package is on the prime minister’s table awaiting approval. The package with a total outlay of Rs170 billion is worked out to encourage the export-oriented sectors which have been showing bleak performance for the last three years. The minister has also involved the National Tariff Commission, an autonomous investigation authority on trade and tariff matters, to administer anti-dumping laws as non-duty paid goods hurting the domestic industry. The commission will also ensure investigations against surge in imports in line with international trading standards and its advice will be sought on issues related to competitiveness of the industry, promotion of exports and rationalization of the customs tariff. It is noted with regret that various government departments have lost their utility with the passage of time as the officials only take interests in their salaries and perks rather than the official work. In this regard, the commission was no exception as lethargic attitude of the officials forced the government to replace its chairman and appoint four new members. How the new officials will show their performance is yet be seen but the fact remains that dereliction of duty has phenomenal presence in the third world countries.
The commission has been now tasked with a responsibility to ensure tariff protection and check the dumping cases to protect the local industry. Pakistan may not allow the import of cotton from India and will also check anti-dumping duties imposed by the United States and South African countries on Pakistani products. Textile is the major earning sector in the country and needs a package for the exporters. According to All Pakistan Textile Mills Association, Pakistan’s exports declined from $25 billion in 2013 to $20billion in 2015-16. The cost of doing business is rising in Pakistan whereas the law and order and inflation are compounding the problem. The cost of doing business is 10 percent more than the countries in the region. The government will have to improve energy supply and slash overlapping taxes to boost exports. If the exports are continued to fall in the coming years, no one will be able to save the country from economic disaster. Pakistan is one of the countries with predominantly young population and it can utilize the workforce to boost industrial output as well as exports. In the poor countries index, Pakistan’s position is 154th whereas India stands at 133, Bangladesh 146, Sri Lanka at 32 and Nepal 77.
The export package is ready to be launched, but transparency of the utilization of funds is questionable given the present state of corruption in the country. A uniformed policy is required to clear the economic mess and it will not be possible until the business community and the government come on one page.