Compelling rice traders for Reap membership opposed

Karachi: The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) whilst felicitating S. M. Munir as the chief of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) has invited his attention that the Quality Review Committee (QRC) managed by the authority is wrongfully insisting on the membership of the Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) from rice exporters and indirectly promoting REAP.

President UNISAME Zulfikar Thaver said QRC is entrusted with the task of carrying out pre-shipment inspection (PSI) of basmati rice and it should simply carry out its job rather than wrongfully compel rice exporters to become members of REAP especially when the old mandatory membership notification of March 3, 1999 has been superseded by a notification bearing number 4(10)05E-III Vol 1. However if QRC is insisting on membership it is very essential that QRC should circulate the copy of the notification on the strength of which it is insisting REAP membership for all exporters of rice. Likewise REAP if it is in possession of any notification of mandatory membership must circulate it to its members so they can challenge it in the competent forum.

No trade association in the world compels any person to become its member as it is against the norms of justice. The association on the basis of its services should attract membership and not by giving the wrong impression that membership is mandatory he reiterated.

He informed the TDAP chief that QRC is on its way out and the matter of its dissolution is with the law ministry and very soon on the no objection from the law division the QRC will shut shop. He urged the TDAP to expedite the matter with the law division in the best interest of rice exporters.

Giving the history of QRC Thaver said it was formed to protect the basmati rice and maintain the bench mark of basmati but it gave rise to serious conflict of interest as it was managed by REAP and then it became a tool to subdue competitors within REAP who belonged to different groups and as most of the trade associations are politicized but in the case of QRC it became obvious as PSI is always conducted by a third party and here the system was abused by its managers. Any PSI has to be transparent, independent and a body which is registered, qualified, competent and eligible as per international standards having DNA facilities and in a position to pay claims due to mistakes in PSI challenged by the buyer.

It is therefore not worthy of enlistment as a PSI company and is being dissolved accordingly.

Secondly QRC is not qualified nor eligible and not approved on merit by the Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) which unwillingly did not expose it due to the pressure from the ministry of commerce.

Now since the commerce minister Khurram Dastagir comprehended the futility of QRC and its defective status he wisely expressed his desire to close it and has sent the file to the law division for determining the procedure to close it.

The union has urged S. M. Munir to take prompt action and examine the case of mandatory membership of REAP before 31st March 2014 which is the last date of renewal as due to increase in membership fees by 465% by REAP it is unaffordable for the small exporters who may not renew if it is not mandatory.

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