Friday April 12, 2024

Afghan transit trade issue to be resolved in a week: PM

By Jawwad Rizvi
August 10, 2020

LAHORE: Prime Minister Imran Khan has said the Afghan Pakistan Transit Trade (APPT) issue is getting prolonged and causing huge losses to the economy and businesses of both countries.

However, he assured the business community that the issue of APPT would be resolved within a week and trade between the two countries would be resumed to the same pace of pre-covid19 level. He instructed the officials concerned to remove all hurdles in this regard and resume of the trade. He also ordered for clearing the backlog and stuck consignments on Pak-Afghan borders due to Covid-19 pandemic.

During his recent visit to Lahore in a meeting at the Chief Minister Secretariat with the Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) president Mian Anjum Nisar, who led a delegation of the business community to apprise the PM about the issues of the industry and trade in general and primarily after Covid-19, the prime minster admitted that the concerns and apprehensions of the business community were genuine while the government was focusing on addressing them on priority. The meeting was also attended by Chief Minister Usman Buzdar and Federal Minister for Industries and Production Hammad Azhar and Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Irfan Iqbal Sheikh.

Issues relating to various sectors of the economy, trade (exports/imports) problems being faced by exporters and importers in cross border trading particularly Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade (APTT), ease of doing business, enhancement of country’s export, input costs and taxation issues were discussed during the meeting.

It was highlighted in the meeting that the wheat quota needs to be increased in order to stabilise its price and availability in the market. The meeting between FPCCI delegation and the prime minister also discussed various avenues of export promotion and problems being faced at port as detention/demurrage charges which are at a higher side than rest of the world and discouraging our trade.

Prime Minister Imran Khan consciously focused on all pressing issues pertaining to economy and business community and responded positively and assured that all submissions will be considered and action will be taken on priority. He said all issues and concerns are genuine and require immediate attention. Directives will be issued to the relevant ministries to resolve the matters, he said.

FPCCI President Mian Anjum Nisar said that there was a significant need for Pakistan to boost its exports to reduce worsening trade deficit. Covid-19 has added to miseries of the export sector amid global slowdown and in the wake of corona pandemic many global brands are facing bankruptcy whose impact will also fall on the export industry of Pakistan. While Pakistan trade and industry is facing severe liquidity crunch due to imposition of multiple taxes and the refunds of sales/ income tax worth billions of rupees are stuck up with the government, which need to be addressed on priority basis for the survival of our economy, he said.

Covid-19 pandemic has affected every business sector. It is one of the core challenges for the business community to overcome economic crisis. The agriculture sector, construction, education, textile, food and tourism sectors are on the verge of collapse. Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Interior NCOC should find solution to remove hurdles that are impeding Pakistan foreign trade particularly exports to Afghanistan and flow of traffic and blockage be removed, he said.

FPCCI president highlighted that SME sector was the most vulnerable and it is anticipated that the SME sector will require immediate monetary aid.

The government should issue Zero Markup loans to the SMEs for the survival of the SME sector otherwise it is utterly declared that SME will be shut down due to insufficient funds, he said.

Chief Minister Usman Buzdar appreciated efforts of the business community for representing the issues of the business community which was the backbone of the economy. He said discussions on Joint Venture of BT Cotton with Monsanto are under process.