KARACHI - The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (UNISAME) has invited the attention of Federal Commerce Secretary Zafar Mahmood to the gross violation of the principles of pre-shipment inspection (PSI) of rice being conducted by the Quality Review Committee (QRC) under Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and urged him not to nurse a defective system and be bold enough not to compromise on principles.

UNISAME has urged him to adhere to the rules and regulations laid down in the international forum for PSI in the World Trade Organization (WTO) manuals and not continue with a lame system based on partiality. President UNISAME Zulfikar Thaver has urged the Federal Secretary Commerce not to bypass the principles and sacrifice the system for vested interest and understand the basis of PSI which is conducted all over the world by third party service providers and never by the interested parties.

Some of the REAP committee members are persons of high integrity but we should make and rely on impartial strong system and not personalities.

It is reported that some QRC employed staff members are doing rice business secretly in the names of their family members and friends and stealing contacts of shippers. They own shops, offices and warehouses in Pakistan and abroad and are deeply involved in rice business.

The Ministry of Commerce vide a notification has handed over the QRC to TDAP and issued a public notice that all funds of QRC are to be transferred to TDAP and the QRC offices will be separated from the offices of Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (REAP) and apparently these are positive steps to make QRC look like an independent body but the most important drawback is the inclusion of REAP committee members who are rice exporters themselves on the QRC which gives rise to conflict of interest.

He invited the attention of the learned secretary to the basic requirement of a PSI agency which clearly demands that it is registered, competent, eligible and qualified to carry out PSI and no exporter is on its committee. It is clearly defined in the international law that the PSI agency has to be independent, impartial and transparent and having a legal status of a joint stock company to honor claims  and own responsibility in case of claims of the buyers.

He further enlightened the secretary that the QRC operating under the TDAP is not licensed and devoid of meeting claims, not in a position to settle disputes and above all lacks the expertise and does not have the facilities of conducting test in its so called laboratory.

UNISAME has appealed to the secretary to dissolve the QRC as PSI is the prerogative of the buyer who nominates the PSI agency and if however the MOC is bent upon getting all rice shipments to global destinations inspected then the MOC can appoint a few third party PSI agencies to conduct the PSI in all fairness.