FAISALABAD - The National Tariff Commission (NTC) is undertaking a record 18 to 19 investigations after the promulgation of new ordinance issued in March 2015.

Addressing an awareness session about recent changes in NTC laws at Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry here on Saturday, NTC Chairman Muhammad Abbas Raza said the ultimate objective of NTC was to provide a level playing field to the local industry in the wake of globalization.

He spelled out the structural changes made in the NTC ordinance and said that earlier it had only two members along with one chairman while now the number of its members has been increased up to 4. "It is also for the first time that the professional competence of chairman and its members have been defined," he added.

He said that NTC had two kinds of roles; one was mandatory which includes anti-dumping, countervailing and safeguard measures. The NTC has authority to fix tariffs etc. at its own regard while the other part of its duty was to make recommendations to government on competitiveness of the local industry, he added.

He said the commission had also fixed timeline to resolve the issues within 60 days while in case of recommendations the government and commerce ministry were also bound to follow the timeline of 15 days.

He further said that regarding anti dumping law, a clause of lesser duty rate has also been introduced. However, it would not be applicable incase of imports under Duty and Tax Remission (DTRE) scheme.

Responding to a question, he clarified that regarding competitiveness, the tariff of gas and electricity didn't fall within its preview. He said the commission had also prepared a checklist in connection with anti-dumping duty which would bring much needed transparency in the complicated anti-dumping laws.

Responding to yet another question, he said that Pakistan had signed a one-sided Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in 2006 with China which had negative repercussions on Pakistani industry. "Now we are again going to ink similar agreements with Turkey and Thailand which must be made reciprocal for the benefit of our industry, he disclosed.

He further said that Afghanistan had also become a member of WTO and under this agreement; we are bound to give this land locked country access to the international markets. Similarly, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project is also in the pipeline and we must remain cautious and take necessary measures to protect our domestic industry.

Responding to another question about the regulatory duty on imports, he said that basically it was the prerogative of finance ministry and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). However, now the International Monetary Fund (IMF) had raised objections on it and in near future it will become difficult for the finance ministry to clamp such duty without proper studies and analysis which falls within the domain of NTC.

He further said the NTC was fully aware of the needs of its domestic industry and it had so far conducted analysis of more than 200 trades and industries.

He asked the exporters to submit tariff related anomalies immediately so that the NTC could forward it with proper recommendations for inclusion in the Federal Budget of 2016-17.

Earlier, in his welcome address, President Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) Chaudhry Muhammad Nawaz introduced Faisalabad and FCCI. He also welcomed the organization of this briefing session on NTC for the business community of Faisalabad and hoped that such informative programs will continue in future.

He said that Pakistan stands at 138th number as regards cost of doing business in the world and due to this reason our exports have been continuously declining for the last two years.

He said the NTC should play its reinvigorated role to make the local industry competitive on permanent and sustainable basis.

Senior Vice President FCCI Syed Zia Alamdar Hussain, Vice President Jameel Ahmed, Central Chairman of Pakistan Hosiery Manufacturers Association (PHMA) Dr. Khurram Tariq and Shabbir Hussain Chawla took part in the question-answer session while Syed Zia Alamdar Hussain offered vote of thanks.

Later, Dr. Khurram Tariq Central Chairman PHMA presented FCCI shield to Chairman NTC Muhammad Abbas Raza.