LAHORE - As part of the Strategic Trade Policy Framework announced in December 2012, the newly-established Land Port Authority has almost completed the final draft of PC-I of Dry Port at Wagha border to be accomplished in three years with a view to facilitate two-way trade of Pakistan and India after the MFN status to the neighbouring country.
The Rs.22 billion foreign funded land ports project, which will also be technically assisted by the Asian Development Bank, is already approved under the PSDP 2014-15 head in the federal budget with government allocations of around Rs.2 billion for overall three land ports on different borders including Wagha, officials said.
The Land Port Authority (LPA), having maximum operational and financial autonomy, will oversee the construction and maintenance of the integrated border crossing points and future extension of three dry ports at Torkham, Chaman and Wagha border. The LPA will work for all regulatory agencies, including customs, immigration, terminal operator, security, quarantine, banks, shipping agencies and freight forwarders.
The LPA will also introduce biometric and computerised immigration systems to keep a thorough check on border crossing. Moreover, the border security force will also be given special training to control the situation on the borders, officials added.
Chairman Pak-India trade Promotion Committee Aftab Ahmad Vohra commented that the setting up of the modern land ports would enhance regional trade and cooperation. He pointed out that in future more border crossing points should be set up to curb smuggling.
While welcoming the establishment of new Land Port at Wagha, he urged the government to give 50% representation to the private sector in the Authority to achieve the required goals.
LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari said that the government deserves appreciation as the decision would help increase the volume of trade flows across land borders.
He said that the private sector representation at Federal and Provincial levels would ensure implementation of decisions in letter and spirit therefore at least 50 per cent of the members should be taken from the private sector with due consultation of the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
He said that it is happy sign that the government has accepted the Lahore Chamber demand for establishment of such an authority at land borders in order transform our land ports into efficient facilitators of trade while simultaneously being responsive to security issues and smuggling, human.
Aftab Ahmad Vohra said that Pakistan Land Port Authority could play a vital role in promotion of Pakistan’s external trade but it should be freed from bureaucratic hurdles.