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Commerce Ministry may allow old boilers import

KARACHI (January 24 2003) : The Ministry of Commerce is considering allowing import of second-hand boilers for export industries to help expedite the pace of industrial development.

Responding to a question about permission to import the second-hand boilers as demanded by the trade, Minister of Commerce Humayun Akhtar told a press briefing at Export Promotion Bureau (EPB) on Wednesday that there should be a basic policy on whether to allow import of used machinery or not.

To a question about permission to allow export of sugar, he said that the sugar issue is the main concern of the Ministry of Industries, which has submitted a summary to the Cabinet suggesting to set up a price stabilisation board for sugar.

He said that the Government has decided that the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) will intervene to keep the price of sugar stable.

It would purchase surplus stock of sugar from the market and would export the same.

Humayun said that the issue of held-up shipments of categories 6, 9, and 20 in EU would be soon resolved amicably.

He discussed the issue with the authorities in Brussels and it was agreed that shipments of Cat-9 will be released against the 2000 tonnes of special flexibility quota while shipments of Cat-6, 9 would be adjusted against 2003 quota.

The Minister did not agree that embargo in these categories was the result of wrong action of the Ministry of Commerce, which granted over- programming in these categories twice in August and October 2002.

He said that maximum quota is provided to the exporters for sake of greater use and there is always a risk in business.

Citing an example he said that airlines also make over-bookings in times of rush to have maximum earnings.

The Vice Chairman of the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), Ijaz Qureshi, told the minister that the decision for allowing over-programming in these categories was taken by the Ministry at the recommendation of the Quota Supervisory Council (QSC) which has representation from textile associations.

The EPB was severely criticised by the media for not publishing reconciled quota figures for subsequent years to help the exporters know the amount of exact shipments made in each category by different exporters.

It was pointed out that it is necessary to ensure transparency because there is always suspicion that the EPB help the big exporters to have additional quota while the same is refused to small and medium exporters.

On explanation called by the minister, the Chairman, Tariq Ikram, said that due to lack of computers in the past the reconciled figures could not be compiled because the Bureau had to collect figures manually from various exporting stations and there were always discrepancies in figures gathered locally and those provided by the Customs of the receiving countries.

The minister directed the EPB Chairman to ensure that the reconciled figures should be made available to the public now onward.

Tariq Ikram informed the media that the Bureau is formulating an export development programme in consultation with the stakeholders to increase market share in the USA.

He, however, could not explain as how the programme will be implemented without additional market access granted by that country.

Responding to the complaints of embezzlements in the Export Development Fund (EDF) collected from exporters, Humayun Akhtar, said that he would soon convene a meeting of the EDF and would review the entire accounts and methods and sources for distribution of fund.

He said that the Sri Lankan Minister of Trade will arrive in Islamabad on February 6 to sign the trade agreement with Pakistan.

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