Thank God the turbulent year ends with heartening news that Pakistan has been granted GSP Plus status by the EU. This was a long time desire of Pakistan and the government deserves praise and acknowledgement of this achievement. The finance minister is of the view that the GSP Plus status would earn the country much needed foreign exchange to the tune of billions, hence giving a boost to the economy. However, the government ought to remember that there’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip and we still have to work quite a bit to reap the benefits of gaining this access.

The government instead of drumming this up to gain popularity should focus on laying proper plan to ensure that we take full advantage of GSP Plus. In this regard, the government first has to increase awareness and provide better information to people. From the media campaign, it seems the status only applies to textile sector, which would be false to say the least as it applies to about 2000 products. This would motivate the non-traditional sectors beside textiles to try and penetrate the European markets.

The governments should also work on providing support and training to such sectors so that they can successfully cater to the European markets. I believe that the billions being wasted in the name of Youth Program would have been better spent had the government provided reasonable loans to prospective exporter of non-traditional products to Europe. Under the GSP Plus program, this would have ensured competition and better results. Finally, the government has to focus on ensuring proper infrastructure and procedural support of exporters from all sectors. In the absence of electricity, gas, skilled manpower, modern equipment, and simplified procedures, rhetoric alone is not going to take us far.

RAJA SHAFAATULLAH,

Islamabad, December 18.