A meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce was held on Wednesday chaired by Senator Zeeshan Khanzada 

Islamabad, January 18, 2023 (PPI-OT):The meeting was attended by Deputy Chairman Senate Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi, Senator Fida Muhammad, Senator Danesh Kumar and senior officers of the Ministry of Commerce along with its attached departments and agencies.

Issues taken up entailed, problems faced by the business community especially textile industrialists due to non-clearance of LCs causing closure of industrial units and import of edible food items from various countries ensuring availability in markets on affordable rates.

Discussing issues faced by the business community especially textile industrialists due to non-clearance of LCs, the Committee was informed that the State Bank of Pakistan had directed authorised dealers to seek prior permission from Foreign Exchange Operations Department (FEOD), SBP-BSC for initiating the import transaction of specific goods through issuance of letter/amendment of credit, registration/amendment of contract, making advance payments and authorizing transactions on open account or collections basis. The MoC made a list and requested SBP to withdraw the condition for prior permission for certain essential goods.

Regular meetings were held in this regard and assurances were given that banks/Ads would prioritise import related transactions of export oriented sectors. As of December 2022, it restrictions have been removed for import transactions pertaining to HS codes Chapter 84 and 85 and has been effective from 2nd January, 2023. Requests for import transactions have already been submitted.

The Committee stressed the need for stringent measures to be taken to ensure that the issue is addressed at the earliest. The issue of dollar smuggling was discussed and the Committee recommended that dollar rates in banks be increased to address this menace. Barter trade was another recommendation that was made to enhance trade in these trying times with various countries.

It was asserted that a mid-way route must be adopted in order to facilitate both the government and traders. Converting DA payments into cash payments was recommended in order to expedite matters and increase cash reserves.

A letter recommending stringent measures at the earliest to facilitate traders; curb dollar smuggling and increase dollar rates in banks will be sent to the Finance Committee and a copy of the same will be forwarded to the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce as well. It was recommended that representatives from SBP are invited in the next meeting.

Reviewing the matter import of edible food items from various countries ensuring availability in markets on affordable rates the Committee was of the view that trade ties must be enhanced with the African Blok as well; especially with Ethiopia since edible items are available there at extremely economical rates.

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