Senate Standing Committee on Commerce held its two meetings in Quetta and Chaman, Baluchistan on 13th and 14th December, 2021 with the Quetta Chamber of Commerce and Industries (QCCI) and Chaman Chamber of Commerce and Industries (CCCI) along with the visit and progress review of 'Initiative for Trade Management System' at the Chaman border.
Standing Committee on Commerce held special meetings under the Chairmanship of Senator Zeeshan Khanzada in order to address and take into account the ground realities and problems being faced by the local traders of Baluchistan.
The representatives of Chambers of Quetta and Chaman paid tribute and expressed gratitude to the committee for the meetings and visit for the first time in the history held in order to learn about the problems being faced by local traders of Baluchistan.
The special focus of the meetings remained to gain the first-hand knowledge of problems being faced by traders of Baluchistan with Afghanistan and Iran. Committee observed that a number of issues pertain to Federal Government Ministries and Departments, therefore comes under the purview of Standing Committee. Committee assured the local traders that issues highlighted shall be addressed at highest level and efforts shall be made for the resolution.
Chairman Committee, Senator Zeeshan Khanzada, expressed gratitude to the Hon’ble Chairman Senate of Pakistan, Senator Muhammad Sadiq Sanjrani, for his keen interest in the problems being faced by the traders of Baluchistan.
The overview of two meetings held and visit to the Chaman Border is presented below.
Day 1: Meeting with Quetta Chamber of Commerce & Industries
Quetta (December 13th 2021): A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce was held under the chairmanship of Senator Zeeshan Khanzada at Quetta Chamber of Commerce & Industries (QCCI). President, Vice President and Senior Members of QCCI attended the meeting along with the Secretary, Ministry of Industries & Commerce, Baluchistan, representatives from Federal Ministry of Commerce, Federal Board of Revenue, Federal Investigation Agency, Customs, State Bank of Pakistan and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan.
Members of the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce, Senator Fida Muhammad, Senator Danesh Kumar and Senator Manzoor Ahmed Kakar attended the meeting along with the Senator Kauda Babar as Special Invitee.
The representatives of Quetta Chamber of Commerce & Industries (QCCI) presented before the Committee the problems being faced by them in the trade related activities with Afghanistan and Iran with special reference to various federal and provincial agencies involved. Committee held a comprehensive discussion on each of the issue taking in the view points of agencies involved and affected traders.
The representatives of Quetta Chamber of Commerce Industries (QCCI) presented before the Committee problems being faced by them in trade related activities with Afghanistan and Iran with special reference to the involvement of various Federal and Provincial agencies. The Committee held a comprehensive discussion taking into account the view points of both the involved agencies and affected traders.
Non-implementation of MoU between Quetta Chamber of Commerce & Industries (QCCI), Pakistan and Zahedan Chamber of Commerce & Industries, Iran pertaining to Barter Trade Mechanism was discussed. Issues of Badini Border Closure (with Afghanistan) and Bazarcha Gateway closure (with Iran) were also taken up. Role and functions of Frontier Constabulary and Directorate General of Intelligence and Investigation FBR in trade related activities were reviewed in detail. In addition to the above the dispute of allocated land for Expo Centre Balochistan, cancellation of international flights to Quetta and the currency issue in trade due to closure of banks in Afghanistan were also deliberated upon extensively.
In view of detailed discussions on issues taken up by the Committee; it was decided that a periodic review of the performance of involved agencies and departments, pertaining to non-implementation of MoU of the Barter Trade between Quetta Chamber of Commerce & Industries (QCCI), Pakistan and Zahedan Chamber of Commerce & Industries, Iran be conducted to ensure compliance. The Committee directed the Ministry of Commerce that, in order to facilitate traders, issues pertaining to closure of Badini Border and Qamar Din Karez land route must be taken up with the Government of Afghanistan urgently. To curb cross border smuggling the Committee recommended that Customs staff must be posted at QDK. It stressed the need to start imports / exports in the interest of tax collection and also for the ease of traders. The Committee observed the dilapidated condition of National Highway to Badini Border and directed authorities to construct a double road immediately for heavy cargo trade.
The Committee while considering the issues being faced by the LPG traders at Bazarcha Gateway recommended that a separate terminal be constructed and dedicated for LPG Cargo, storage and transit. Commencement of the railway service between Taftan to Zahedan Borders on a daily basis was stressed.
The Committee directed the Ministry of Commerce to hold a meeting with representatives from the Ministry of National Food Security & Research, Quetta Chamber of Commerce &; Industries, Zimindar Action Committee (local growers) and Plant Protection Department to discuss at length the issues pertaining to lack of facilities for local growers of perishable items and come up with ways to resolve these at the earliest.
Chairman Committee Senator Zeeshan Khanzada and Senator Fida Muhammad took up issues being faced by the Mines and Minerals Department of Government of Baluchistan and local traders, especially related to coal extraction, it was decided that such issues shall be taken up in the Senate Standing Committee on Power.
Day 1: Meeting with Chaman Chamber of Commerce & Industries &
Visit of Chaman Border
On the second day of the meeting on 14th December, 2021, the Committee met with members of the Chaman Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI), including President, Vice President, representative from Federal Ministry of Commerce, Federal Investigation Agency, Customs and local traders to discuss issues related to customs and NLC. Currency issues and the absence of TDAP and SMEDA offices and Special Economic Zones in the Chaman were reviewed. The Committee decided to take up matters with related Federal Departments and Agencies.
Chairman Committee, Senator Zeeshan Khanzada was of the view that since the said meetings in Quetta were held on the special directives of Chairman Senate, therefore the issues that were observed during the visit will be discussed in detail with him in order to benefit from his wisdom for the resolution of the same.
The committee visited the 'Initiative for Trade Management System' and took the review of progress made on the project so far. Committee was apprised that project in collaboration with the Asian Development Bank is under process and likely to be completed by the next year i.e. 2022.
Committee observed that Exports potential with Afghanistan is promising. At this time more than five thousand (5000) products are available to be exported to Afghanistan, with the already available market over there. The need of the hour is to provide requisite facilities to the traders at both side by the Governments.
Further the Current revenue from Imports from Afghanistan amounts to thirty-five to forty billion rupees annually, which, in case of requisite facilities being provided, can be taken to sixty billion rupees within a couple of months. Considering this, Committee decided to leave no stone unturned to address and resolve the said issues with the concerned Federal Government departments and agencies.