ISLAMABAD: The Senate Commerce Committee has asked the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to activate department concerned to check smuggling of Iranian and Turkmen fruits and vegetables into the country through Afghanistan.
In this regard, the committee moved four recommendations to the government to check illegal import of vegetables and fruits which were damaging the local agricultural sector.
The Senate committee met here with Chairman Shibli Faraz in the chair to discuss a call attention notice raised by Senator Amir Kabir and referred to the committee by the House. The calling attention notice drew attention of the Minister for Commerce, to a matter of public importance regarding import of various vegetables and fruit from Iran affecting the local farmers of Balochistan.
A group of farmers and growers from Balochistan briefed the committee that Iran had blocked the import of Pakistani rice and Kinnow but Iranian export of apple and other fruits was damaging the local agricultural sector in Balochistan.
Haji Abdul Rehman, head of the delegation, observed that it was a matter of life and death for the farmers and fruit growers because local grower could not compete the Iranian imported apple just because of higher cost of production.
He said that Iran provided seed, fertilizers and agricultural machinery to its farmers and growers free of cost therefore it was quite easy for Iranian farmers to sell their yields at the lowest possible cost.
“The volume of import of Iranian fruits has doubled this year than the previous year. In the wake of possible recommendations from the committee, over 37 containers carrying Iranian fruits crossed into Pakistan today” he added saying that around 20 importers were destroying the whole agricultural sector in Balochistan.
He further said that not only the Iranian apple was imported to Pakistan but fruits from Turkmenistan and few other countries were also being imported on Afghan declaration just because of the fact there was only 10% customs duty on imports from Afghanistan.
The delegation moved the proposals before to committee that import duty on fruits and vegetables from Afghanistan, Iran and even from India should be uniformed. Similarly, there must be complete ban on import of Iranian apple via road and import through sea must be allowed.
Moreover, Iranian fruits and vegetables must be allowed on reciprocal basis to force Iran to permit export of rice and kinnow from Pakistan. Furthermore, rate of import duty and regulatory duty on import of fruits and vegetables from Iran must be further increased to provide level playing field to local growers and farmers compete with the imported products.
Similarly, production of quality certificate to show that the imported fruits and vegetables are not dangerous to health must also be made binding for the importer. The delegation also proposed that committee should recommend the FBR to activate concerned department to check the illegal import of Iranian and other countries fruits and vegetables.
At this the committee in the light of observations of Secretary Commerce and FBR Chief Customs Tariff recommended that FBR and Interior Ministry should take necessary measures to address the grievances raised by the farmers and growers from Balochistan.
Committee also accepted all the proposals moved by the delegation except imposing complete ban on imports of fruits and vegetables from Iran.