ISLAMABAD - Pakistan’s exports had increased at very low pace as against the regional competitors due to higher cost of doing business, energy costs, low productivity and higher imports tariffs on inputs.

The officials of Commerce Division on Thursday informed a parliamentary committee that Pakistan’s exports had increased at the annual growth rate of only 5.1 percent whereas its regional competitors registered growth rate of 16 percent during the period 1991-2018. The meeting of Standing Committee on Commerce and Textile was held with Syed Naveed Qamar, MNA in the chair.

The committee was informed that Pakistan’s exports remained at lower side due to the number of reasons including higher cost of doing business, energy costs, low productivity and higher imports tariffs on inputs. However, to boost the declining export, the current government has taken a number of steps; revision of exports enhancement package, decreasing gas tariffs for LNG for Punjab at par with other provinces, revision of imports and exports regulations and PM’s Export Package Schemes.

Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) gave a comprehensive presentation encompassing its mandate, exports performance, major activities, challenges and new initiatives. Its mandate covers 10 major areas; policy and planning, product development and diversification, awareness and capacity building, R&D, supports services etc. Pakistan exports decreased in the past many years. However, exports increased from US$20.4 billion to US$23.2 billion during the period from 2016-2018. In this regard, major challenges are; missing export culture of multi-nationals, lack of export-oriented FDI in Pakistan, no legal cover for product innovation, informal sector, low value addition, creation of knowledge-based economy, lack of focus on services sector etc. To meet these challenges, TDAP’s way forward includes; expansion of the trade infrastructure, setting up of Expo Centers at Islamabad, Quetta, Peshawar, Look-Africa Plan, increase in subsidy level for non-traditional markets to 80%, for participation in international exhibitions and establishment of export promotion committee.

State Life Insurance Corporation (SLIC) briefed the Committee about the agitation/strike resorted to by its employees. SLIC was on the continuous downward trend which was also noticed by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP). After scrutiny, the 4 tier structure was reduced to 3 tier. The cadre of Sales Officer was promoted as Sales Manager. This step, though involved promotion as well as higher commission rate, was unacceptable to a number of Sales Officers who started agitation. Some other employees also joined them. They filed 10 cases in different courts. Being without merit, they were not granted any relief. Presently, most of them have forsaken the agitation/strike and resumed work. However, the Committee desired deep investigation into the matter.

Meeting was attended by Syed Naveed Qamar, MNA, Ali Khan Jadoon, MNA, Nawab Sher, MNA, Raza Nasrullah, MNA, Khurram Shahzad, MNA, Ahmed Hussain Deharr, MNA, Mian Muhammad Shafiq, MNA, Ms. Wajiha Akram, MNA, Mrs. Sajida Begum, MNA, Mrs Farukh Khan, MNA, Rana Tanveer Hussain, MNA, Tahira Aurangzeb, MNA, and Syed Javed Ali Shah Jillani, MNA including senior officers of the Commerce Division, SLIC and TDAP.