ISLAMABAD - Sartaj Aziz, advisor to prime minister on foreign affairs and national security, has said that there should be more control on the border areas in order to improve security situation of the country and unless the border areas are monitored, the security situation will not improve.
He said that different IT options like biometric and computerised immigration system should be introduced to keep a thorough check on border crossing. Moreover, the border security force should be given special assistance and training to control the situation on the borders, he added.
Sartaj Aziz made these remarks in the second meeting of the steering committee. The meeting that was chaired by Finance Minister Senator Ishaq Dar discussed issues related to integrated transit trade management system (ITTMS).
Chairman FBR Tariq Bajwa in a detailed presentation briefed the participants about the progress made so far with regard to establishing land parts at Turkham, Chaman and Wagha under integrated transit trade management system. According to Bajwa, the project has been included in PSDP 2014-15 and final draft of PC-I is about to be completed. He further informed that the sub-committee visited the three sites and layout plan for the border crossing points has been prepared and they are waiting for ADB review mission report. After the submission of the review report, the stakeholders’ consensus on layout design will be taken.
He further said that informed cost of the project is around Rs 22.058 billion out of which foreign exchange component will be Rs 20.196 billion and the local component will be around Rs 1.862 billion. The project will be competed in 36 months and the executing agency will be the land port authority (LPA). The PC-I of the project is based on the feasibility report prepared by ADB under TA-8405.
The finance minister appreciated the efforts of the committee which visited all the three sites and developed preliminary work in this regard. He directed the members that the management structure of this project should be developed on lesson learnt from various PSDP-funded projects including those implemented by FBR and there should be adequate delegation of power for the running of this project.
Dar said that land port authority should oversee the construction, management and maintenance of the integrated border crossing points and future extension. He said that LPA should act at the common platform for all regulatory agencies including customs, immigration, terminal operator, security, quarantine, banks, shipping agencies, freight forwarders etc. and the concepts would be based on various administration models followed around the world in countries like Singapore, India and Bangladesh. The minister further directed that LPA should be self-sustaining entity, with maximum operational and financial autonomy.
The finance minister said that trade facilitation measures require realistic timeframes that have to include long-term implications, acquire the support of all stakeholders and to take into consideration. The finance minister directed the chairman FBR to present first draft of PC-I by 21st August for consideration and approval by the committee.
Commerce Minister Khurram Dastagir said that the setting up of the modern land ports with the neighbouring countries will enhance regional trade and cooperation. He pointed out that in future more border crossing points will be set up in order to curb smuggling.
The meeting was also attended by Finance Secretary Dr Waqar Masood, Secretary Commerce Arbab Shahzad, Advisor to the Finance Ministry Rana Assad Amin, Additional Finance Secretary/SA to Finance Minister, Shahid Mahmood, and senior officials of the finance ministry.