Rafique Suleman meets Hafeez Shaikh suggests reforms in trade

Islamabad, June 20, 2019: Rafique Suleman convener, FPCCI standing committee on rice and former chairman Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan on Thursday met with Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Advisor to Prime Minister on Finance and discussed the issues related to Rice exports.

Expressing satisfaction over the budget for 2019-20, Suleman informed the advisor that “Rice is the Only sector, which exports worth more than $2 billion, has not protested or did not issue any public statement”.

He told Hafeez Shaikh that he believes the business community needs to act responsibly and not accelerate the already difficult economic times the country is facing. “While we have our reservations the Rice Export Sector represented by REAP continues to work on possible solutions which should come out as a win-win Solution for Rice Sector and the Government”, he said.

The rice exporters expressed full trust and faith in the Government and its commerce and economic teams.

The Govt finance team has already made two committees headed by reputable people with sound technical and business backgrounds. “All Associations should prepare homework and do analytical Presentations as REAP has done for ministery of commerce and PM Reform Team with a full 5-year road map. Where a doable Proposal of putting in $1.4 billion dollars over the next 5 years will help Pakistan increase its Rice Exports by $5 billion per Annum”, former REAP chairman noted.

The immediate areas that need to be worked on war Footing is the Kalar Belt – for reviving our basmati heritage. “This alone prospect is potential of more than $2 billion as compared to only $ 750 million. We are glad both Federal and Provincial Departments have given a positive response and implementation has already started”, Suleman added.

He suggested that in the long Term Financial Incentives Hafeez Sheikh may seek assistance from Economic Advisory Council to prepare an analysis on forex return each Sector has brought to the Country and the incentives given.

EDF board should prioritize the creation of skilled manpower and set up Technical Institutes across the Country for each sector but the Management of these Institutes should be assigned to Full-time Professionals and the respective sector should only remain in consultative advisory Role on what is needed.

He lamented that the from a small rice miller in Gujranwala to Shahdadkot and Larkana the Provision of utilities remains extremely poor and similar state of affairs remains for across the agriculture value chain. “As reported multiple times that the pre and post-harvest losses in the Agri Value Chain is more than 3 to 10 times”, he added.

“80 percent infrastructure developed in both KPT and PQA is import oriented gets zero focus on Export”, sulaman informed the advisor added that “Ports and Shipping Ministry needs to work together with Ministery of commerce to ensure priority for exports in every Planning that is undertaken”, he added.

He informed that all the Container Terminals operating boasts of world-class infrastructure but have increased the cost of trade and exports. Finance, commerce and ports and shipping ministries need to revisit all the existing agreements with these Terminals, he suggested.

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