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NA Commerce Committee Approves New ‘Imports and Exports (Control) Amendment Bill, 2022’

ISLAMABAD: National Assembly Standing Committee on Commerce headed by Khursheed Ahmed Junejo on Tuesday approved the “Imports and Exports (Control) Amendment Bill, 2022,” as introduced in the National Assembly aimed at delegating powers to the Ministry to resolve hardship case on its own.

The Import and Export (Control) Act, 1950 is the primary legal instrument which provides the legal basis for the conduct of international trade of Pakistan. Imports and Exports of the goods are regulated through Import Policy Order (IPO) and Export Order (EPO), respectively, issued under Section 3(l) of the Act.

Keeping in view the ex-agencies of trade and industry, IPO and EPO are framed and amended from time to time with the approval of the Cabinet. Under the Act the federal government is empowered to: (i) make issue new IPO and EPO, (ii) make amendments in IPO and EPO; and (iii) grant permission, on one-time basis, for imports and exports of the goods by relaxing the prohibition/ restrictions contained in the said orders.

According to the Commerce Ministry, the powers to relax prohibition and restriction, however, imposed on imports and/or exports under the IPO/EPO, in cases of urgency or in public interest, are also vested in the federal government. As such, all cases of relaxation, on one-time basis, have to be submitted to the Cabinet for consideration.

To improve administrative efficiency and to secure interest of trade and commerce of Pakistan, Commerce Ministry proposed that the said powers to grant one-time relaxation may be vested in the Federal Minister for Commerce. As such, the Federal Minister/ Minister-in-Charge shall be responsible for actions both to the Cabinet and the Parliament.

The Commerce Ministry maintained that the proposed amendments will enable addressing hardship cases, received from the business community and other quarters for one-time relaxation of import/export related prohibitions and restrictions.

Moreover, the amendment will be compliant with the direction of the Cabinet whereby the Cabinet has directed all federal government agencies to substitute the words “Federal Government” with appropriate authority in their respective laws, rules etc.

During discussion, the Committee was informed that there are only 16,000 exporters in the country, however, now the exporters are being trained through courses.

The Committee was further informed that from this year, 20,000 MTs of potatoes will be exported to Kazakhstan. Russia is already buying potatoes from Pakistan to make high-quality vodka. Chairman Standing Committee expressed his annoyance at the absence of Chairman Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) from the meeting. “Why did the TDAP Chairman not come in future, notice will be issued to summon him,” warned chairman Committee. Standing Committee also noted absence of Secretary Commerce in the meeting and issued instructions to Secretary Commerce to attend the next meeting.

Special Secretary Commerce, Dr Mujtaba Memon apprised the Committee that TDAP Board is currently non- functional as it is incomplete since the end of the tenure of former Commerce Advisor Abdul Razak Dawood.

He further informed that in the next two weeks, the new board will be sent to the federal cabinet for approval. Standing Committee directed Commerce Ministry to complete TDAP Board within a month to run the organisation efficiently.

The Committee while discussing the performance of TDAP had directed that M/o Commerce may introduce appraisal system for commercial Attaches and bind them to achieve the targets set by the government so that Pakistani exports could advance promptly.

The Committee directed that M/o Commerce may launch a proper print & media campaign to give access to Pakistani traders in international markets so that they could sell their products in international markets to grab maximum revenue for the country.

The Committee therefore, decided to invite Secretary Finance & Secretary Industries & Production so that concrete measures could be adopted to expand the network of Pakistani exports worldwide. The meeting was attended by Rasheed Ahmed Khan, MNA, Rana Iradat Sharif Khan, MNA, Syed Javed Ali Shah Jilani, MNA, Tahira Aurangzeb, MNA, Wajiha Qamar, MNA, Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani, MNA and senior officers of the concerned Ministry/departments.