Commerce secretary inaugurates PHDEC’s head office, reassures future plans

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ISLAMABAD: Commerce Secretary Younus Dagha inaugurated the new head office of the Pakistan Horticulture Development and Export Company (PHDEC) Monday at the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry’s (FPCCI) office in Islamabad. FPCCI President Ghazanfar Bilour, PHDEC Chairman Fuad Ishaq, Acting CEO Muhammad Ashraf, the senior officers of the Ministry of Commerce and members of Board of Directors of the company were present on the occasion, read a press release issued here on Monday.

The statement highlighted the need for PHDEC and its transformation from a company facing closure to becoming a stable organisation. The statement read “PHDEC is a public-sector organisation established by the Ministry of Commerce as Pakistan Horticulture Development Board in 2003, later converted into a Section-42 Company in 2009. Due to several administrative and financial constraints, the company’s performance gradually deteriorated and there was serious consideration of its closure in 2015. In 2017, when Dagha took over as Commerce secretary, he instructed to conduct a need analysis of PHDEC as an organisation before taking the final decision on the future of the organisation.”

“It emerged that there was nothing wrong with the company’s institutional rationale; the cause of its poor performance was gross mismanagement and lack of financial sustainability. The ministry, therefore, decided to revitalize and restructure the organisation by correcting its administrative malaise and providing a viable financial stream rather than closing it,” it added.

The ministry, on the request of Board of Directors, appointed Director General Trade Policy Muhammad Ashraf, as the Acting CEO. The company’s licence, which was cancelled by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SECP) in 2015 due to non-compliance, has been restored; the external audit of accounts for the last many years has been conducted, the Memorandum of Association of the company has been updated, the human resource has been right-sized, a stock-taking of company’s projects has been completed, the human resource policies and procedures have been developed and the office of the company has been shifted from a residential building in Lahore to a corporate environment in Islamabad, the statement clarified.

Commerce secretary held a detailed meeting with the Board of Directors of the PHDEC and discussed the company’s plan for the coming year. Addressing the board he said that since the company’s major administrative issues have been addressed, the company should now focus on a comprehensive work plan for its operations related to export development and promotion, for which the administrative restructuring is only a means. “I would like to underline that ministry’s vision for the PHDEC is to make it a model sector-specific business support organisation in the public sector, which can be replicated for other sectors also”, he said.

The CEO made a detailed presentation to the secretary and the board on the work plan of the company for the coming year. He said that the company plans to organisation participation of horticulture exporters in the international trade fairs, arrange visits of delegations to the target markets, invite foreign buyers to visit Pakistan and commission a market study of the potential of horticulture under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

The statement added that for supply chain development the company will be focusing on eradication of canker from citrus fields in collaboration with the provincial governments, certification of farms and processing facilities and development of a Farmers’ Market on M2 Motorway as a pilot project. The pre-feasibility studies of the value-added products of horticulture will be conducted and made available to the potential investors, along with a bankable feasibility of a capital-intensive industry. Younas Dagha appreciated the work plan and advised the PHDEC to develop a National Horticulture Export Strategy which, inter alia, included an added emphasis on the development of floriculture sub-sector besides the fruits and vegetables.