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Event Title: Senator Zeeshan Khanzada, Chairman Senate Standing Committee on Commerce Presiding over a Meeting of the Committee at Parliament House Islamabad

Event Date: 2023-12-04

Meeting of Senate Standing Committee on Commerce was held at Parliament House on Monday with Senator Zeeshan Khanzada in Chair.

The Senate Committee discussed a Private Member’s Bill titled the “Imports and Exports (Control) Amendment Bill, 2023. [Amendment of section 3 of Import and Export (Control) Act, 1950 (XXXIX of 1950)] introduced by Senators Zeeshan Khanzada, Faisal Saleem Rehman, and Muhammad Abdul Qadir. The movers presented that amendment in the act imposes a bar on the export of raw salt and directs the Federal Government to impose conditions upon its export.

The ministry argued that Imports and Exports (Control) Act, 1950, is primary legal instrument providing basis for regulating international trade in Pakistan. Moreover, the imports and exports of all goods are regulated through export orders (EPO) and import policy orders (IPO), respectively, issued under these act after seeking approval of the Federal Government. It was also debated that the EPO/IPO contains restrictions for export and import of food to and from Pakistan. The Ministry of Commerce is of view that inclusion-wise prohibitions and restrictions in the act would not be appropriate, as the act provides powers to the Federal Government to regulate trade.

Deputy Chairman Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi said that Pakistan possesses world's largest and most pure rock salt reserves. He mentioned that this commodity has an estimated annual market in billions of dollars, which is further growing on an annual basis. He stressed that this commodity has been exported internationally in raw form without a policy that allows maximum revenue to be regained in Pakistan, and issue must be addressed. The committee decided to defer the matter and sought the amended draft of the EPO 22 for future deliberation. The committee also decided to hold meetings with all relevant stakeholders on the legality of the amendment. The committee directed the ministry to furnish a progress report on the matter within one month and deferred the deliberation for the same period.

Furthermore, the Senate Committee discussed the duty-free import of cars up to 1350cc for disabled persons. Senator Mohammad Abdul Qadir, the mover of the matter, stated that disabled persons should be allowed to import used cars as it becomes difficult for majority to afford new ones. Officials apprised the Committee that the Ministry of Industries and Production and FBR have imposed restrictions on the import of used cars for disabled persons. However, they clarified that disabled individuals can import new cars up to 1350cc without paying customs duty once in ten years. The Committee recommended that disabled persons to import used cars up to 1500cc once in 5 years. Additionally, the Committee referred the matter to the Senate Finance Committee for sales tax exemption.

The committee also discussed the strategy devised to resolve the issues of debt payment by the Trading Corporation of Pakistan to various government entities, including the payment of commercial bank loans and their markup. The committee was informed of the current status of debts and liabilities, with a principal amount of 105,512.73 million Pakistani rupees and 153,744.06 million rupees in markup, totaling 259,256.78 million rupees in debt.

The Chairman of TCP briefed the committee on the efforts for recovery, stating that third-party audits on subsidy payments have been conducted, and regular reminders to recipient agencies are being issued. It was explained that directives have been sent to the concerned ministries, urging them to submit summaries to the Finance Division reflecting the payables to TCP in their financial demands for FY 2013-2024. The committee was apprised that ongoing efforts include holding repetitive meetings with the Finance Divisions and the concerned federal and provincial recipients. The matter was deferred for further reporting and the speedy resolution of the dilemma. The Committee decided that matter will be discussed until its resolved.

The Committee was briefed on the measures taken to enhance KINNOW exports. Officials reported that Pakistan primarily exports KINNOW to Afghanistan, UAE, Russia, Philippines, Kazakhstan, and Indonesia. However, KINNOW exports experienced a decline last season due to floods and the Ministry is now aiming for a substantial increase in KINNOW exports, setting an export target of 150 million dollars for the current season. Deputy Chairman Senate,Mirza Muhammad Afridi, suggested that the ministry should include South Korea in the export destinations, as it holds potential demand for Pakistan's KINNOW. He further added that Ministry should hold Exhibition domestically so that the locals could be aware about the demands of the products. Chairman Committee recommended the ministry to devise an export strategy for the Oranges largely produce in the Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

In attendance were Deputy Chairman Senate Mirza Muhammad Afridi,Senator Fida Muhammad,Senator Saleem Mandviwalla,Senator Danesh Kumar,Senator Palwasha Muhammad Zai Khan,Senator Mohammad Abdul Qadir,Special Secretary Commerce Sarah Saeed,Chairman TCP Syed Rafeo Bashir Shah and other senior officials of relevant departments were also in attendance.