LAHORE: The Chief Executive Officer of Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) SM Muneer on Monday declared categorically that the Authority would be purged of work shirkers to turn it into a corporate entity having close coordination and liaison with all the chambers of commerce in the country.
The TDAP Chief was addressing a large gathering of business leaders here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari shared his vision about the TDAP while Senior Vice President Mian Tariq Misbah, Vice President Kashif Anwar, former Presidents Mian Anjum Nisar, Shahid Hassan Sheikh, Mian Misbahur Rehman, Shahzad Ali Malik, Muhammad Ali Mian, Irfan Qaiser Sheikh, former Senior Vice President Sheikh Muhammad Arshad, Former Vice Presidents Aftab Ahmad Vohra, Shafqat Seed Piracha and Saeeda Nazar were prominent among other speakers. Regional Chairman FPCCI SM Naseer specially participated in the meeting.
He said that the institution would be revamped to ensure that no one dares to flout the rules. I will purge corrupt elements and convert the entity from a bureaucratic institution to a true business organization.
SM Muneer said that all efforts were being put in place to make the TDAP a world class organization to facilitate the business community and educate the government on economic challenges. He said that being a businessman himself he well understands the problems being faced by the exporters and had already taken a number of steps to this regard.
He said that prompt actions would be taken to remove any hurdle to exports. Pakistan has to grab every export opportunity and TDAP would proactively remove hurdles impeding exports. A few days back I read in a news report that the gems and jewellery exports slumped from $1.6 billion to $279 million. I immediately called the meeting of all stakeholders. It was found that the gems and jewellery exports declined because of the ban on gold imports. Actually, imported gold was converted into jewellery and exported after this value addition. The ban on gold import was imposed because unscrupulous elements used to import unlimited quantity of gold and smuggled it to India.
“On my intervention, the finance minister allowed the import of up to 10 kilograms of gold; a buyer of value-added jewellery would make payment for this. The entire gold in value-added form has to be exported in four months. Now the gems and jewellery exports would cross $1.5 billion again.”
Commenting on the free trade agreements (FTA), he said that FTAs had problems regarding fixation of tariffs and the government should take onboard the business community while finalizing further international agreements.
He also said that a committee had been constituted at the TDAP with the private sectors participation, to take full advantage of GSP Plus. He urged the LCCI President to nominate LCCI members for the committee as GSP Plus was an important matter.
Two years back expo Pakistan was a flop show because all the invitees were not genuine and relatives of officials or rulers. Millions of rupee TDAP invested in their travel and lodging went down the drain. Expo Pakistan will again be held from 23 to 26 October, 2014 at Karachi. I have warned the officials that no nepotism will be tolerated this time.
Talking about commercial attaches working abroad, SM Muneer said that majority of them are not performing up to the expectation. Actually, we have to motivate them to work dedicatedly in supreme national interest.
Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari sought the help of TDAP CEO for early release of sales tax refunds.
He suggested that the refunds process should be put on automation so that every businessman could be able to get due refund automatically.
He said that the regional desks should be established at TDAP so that the official appointed there could be able to give right information to the exporters without any delay.
He said that the TDAP would have to focus on exploring the new markets for Pakistani especially for value added items to find a way to diversify our products and export markets.
The role of commercial sections of our foreign missions is very important in this connection. They must keep on updating us about the latest development taking place there and also sending the trade queries.
We have deliberated a lot about the potential of trade with regions like SAARC, ASEAN, OIC, Central Asian Republics and African Union but the actions have yet to match with our claims or aims.
Pakistan is facing a situation of stagnant level of trade with the member states of OIC and ASEAN. In years 2011 and 2012, our percentage share with OIC lingered at 0.78% and with ASEAN at 0.02%.
Trade figures depict that from year 2008 to 2012, the growth rate in total trade of Pakistan with OIC was recorded to the extent of 20.7%. It seems that the momentum has slowed down and we need to do more in this regard as OIC can undoubtedly promise much bigger benefits.
We strongly demand that there should be an equal distribution of Export Development Fund within the various region of Pakistan. The Lahore region should be given equal opportunity to take advantage of this facility.
Majority of the high-flying fairs and exhibitions are organized in Karachi. The TDAP Lahore office should also be actively engaged in organizing events in EXPO Centre Lahore like My-Lahore on the pattern of My-Karachi.
With regard to international exhibitions organized by TDAP, we would like to propose that the participation of international exhibitors must be ensured and if there is no interest shown by foreign companies then the event should be either delayed or shifted to some other venue.
The LCCI President said that single country exhibitions should not be organized in such countries which are not the regular trading partners of Pakistan. In that case, the event is not well attended and the exhibitors also get discouraged due to poor response.
TDAP must ensure the participation of leading exhibitors of Pakistan in such international exhibitions where our close competitors are displaying their products like India, China, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Indonesia etc. People take interest in such exhibitions and there are often greater chances of getting business as well.
The delegations organized by TDAP should be prepared in close liaison with Chambers to ensure greater representation of private sector at international trading events.
Engineer Sohail Lashari also invited SM Muneer’s attention towards the procedure laid down by TDAP for Free Choice Delegations. The subsidy under financial support is not provided under free choice delegations which is against the spirit of this facility.
Since the LCCI arranges business delegations to almost all parts of the world regularly therefore if this clause is modified then the frequency of these delegations could be enhanced considerably.
Pakistan has signed various FTAs and PTAs with many countries but unfortunately the desired results could not be achieved from these agreements therefore there is a need to revisit these agreements and study the market conditions.
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