ISLAMABAD- The Senate Standing Committee on Commerce and Textile on Tuesday informed that government could not achieve the targets set in three years Strategic Trade Policy Framework 2012-15 due to the Finance Ministry that has not released funds for the implementation of policy.
Secretary Commerce Muhammad Shahzad Arbab informed the Senate's body that Finance Ministry was bound to release Rs 15 billion for the implementation of the three years trade policy but it did not disburse the funds. Therefore, the government could not achieve the desire targets.
The Senate Standing Committee on Commerce and Textile, which met under the chair of Senator Ghulam Ali, has discussed long agenda.

Briefing the committee, Commerce Minister Khurram Dastgir Khan said the purpose of government policies is to promote liberalised trade. He further said that Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to promote the bilateral trade and controlling smuggling during the recent visit of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to Islamabad. He went on saying that government is committed to evolve transparent trade policies, which could take the country towards economic progress.

The Commerce Minister told the committee that government would provide trade incentives to the four provinces without any discrimination. He added that government has taken few steps to implement the Strategic Trade Policy Framework 2012-15 on the direction of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that included establishment of domestic commerce wing, trade services councils, land port authority and exports import bank.

The Committee was also briefed regarding trade with India. The Senate's body was informed that trade dialogue with India was started back in 1998, which held seven rounds. The negative list of trade items had reduced to 1209, which were earlier around 1963. As many as 137 commodities are traded from Wahga border and remaining from Karachi port, the official of the Commerce Ministry briefed the committee.

The Senate Standing Committee on Commerce and Textile was informed that government is working to devise a new roadmap regarding trade with India, which would allow trading all commodities from Wahga border. The committee members showed concerns over the free trade agreements with countries, as they observed many people are misusing the agreement. There is no mechanism in the country that could judge which items have been sent or received, the members noted.

The Senate's body also discussed the appointment of Trade Attachés. The committee unanimously decided to constitute a committee to review the performance of the trade officers of Pakistan working abroad. Senator Saleem H Mandviwalla, of Pakistan Peoples Party, said that tenure of some trade officers is going to expire in 2015 but government is extending their contracts on the basis of like/dislike. Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan of the ruling PML-N said that performance of the trade officers is not satisfactory, as they did not do work to increase the country's exports.

The meeting was told that government had appointed 23 Trade Attachés from Punjab, four from Sindh, three from Balochistan and six from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It was further informed that government appoints the trade officers on the basis of performance.

The Committee also has taken up the issue of implementation status of amended policy of import of arms and amenities as approved by Cabinet in 2012. Secretary Commerce Muhammad Shahzad Arbab informed the Senate's body that government is working for the implementation of policy. Commenting on it, the members of committee termed it a sensitive issue and directed for early implementation of the policy.