UNISAME seeks explanation about mandatory membership

Karachi: The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) an SME forum has sought clarification about mandatory membership of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) for all rice exporters from the ministry of commerce (MoC) and urged the MoC to clarify whether it is for exporters of all varieties of rice and if so the wisdom and rational behind the patronage and favoritism.

President UNISAME Zulfikar Thaver said rice exporters are members of their respective chambers of commerce and industries and all exporters of brown rice are registered with the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) for the facility of pre-shipment inspection. Even some exporters of white rice are registered with TCP on the nomination of their overseas buyers who require independent third party inspection by an authorized body.

Thaver said an association by virtue of its services may attract stakeholders to become members but compelling exporters to become members is beyond comprehension especially when such a compulsion is unconstitutional, irrational and beyond comprehension.

He pointed out that many SME rice exporters are exporting wheat, maize, sugar, salt, spices, recipe items, fruits, vegetables, flowers and commodities and it is not expected of them to become members of all the associations of items they are exporting especially when they are members of their respective chamber of commerce and industry of their area. The compulsion of membership of REAP is illogical and needs to be removed forthwith.

REAP has increased its membership renewal fees by 465% which is exorbitant and it is reported that they are claiming having taken approval of the Regulator of the Trade Associations. The SME forum is surprised as to how the regulator has approved such a huge increase. It is reported that they have not followed the procedure of approval in the general body meeting and the regulator has been misinformed.

The SME forum emphasized that an association must be competent to stand on its own feet and meet its own expenses by voluntary membership based on the services it renders to its members who willingly become members being attracted and benefited by its services and information it provides. The patronage of the MoC and favoritism is questionable and the forum has requested the ministry to explain the rational and wisdom behind the compulsion.

The SME forum has invited the attention of the MoC that the renewal fees of the highly esteemed chamber of commerce and industry is Rs 2100 only and in comparison REAP demands Rs 14000 for renewal and Rs 1000 for web charges. The forum has pointed out that the last date of renewal of membership is 31st March 2014 and the Moc needs to clarify whether it has made the membership of REAP mandatory for all varieties of rice exporters irrespective of the fact that they are members of their respective chamber of commerce and industry and registered with the TCP and or Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) for export of food items to global destinations.

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