Govt appoints ‘tainted’ organisation to monitor ‘quality’ of auto sector

ISLAMABAD: Though the government has decided to dissolve the Engineering Development Board (EDB) for being a corrupt organisation and not performing any useful function, it has asked the Pakistan Standard and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) – another organisation known for corruption and malpractice, to monitor the standard and quality of vehicles being manufactured/assembled in the country.

PSQCA, an arm of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST), has subsequently made standards for the auto sector (four wheelers ) recently with the help of a few experts, sources at the authority told Pakistan Today, adding that the auto sector and parts have now been added in the mandatory items’ list of PSQCA. The authority is mandated to check the quality of over 100 items mostly food items.

PSQCA, which is presently supervising the quality of two and three wheelers (Motorcycle and Rickshaw), will be monitoring and issuing fitness certificates to new cars being manufactured or assembled in the country. “The standard made by the PSQCA recently is no more than a copy paste of standards existing in other countries. How an organisation, which lacks experts, machinery, testing facilities, laboratory and research facilities, can supervise the manufacturing of a modern car?” said sources at MoST.

“PSQCA does nothing but issuance of the stickers pasted on every new product including motorcycle, rickshaws, fanes etc. The officials and staff of the organisation obtain kickbacks, bribes for a no objection certificate (NoC) and clearance of mandatory items,” an official at the ministry in terms of anonymity said.

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“It could be a jock to expect better results from PSQCA as compared to EDB. PSQCA could not be a substitute of EDB if corruption was the reason behind the dissolution of EDB,” said a source in the auto sector.  

The cabinet of the previous government had decided to dissolve EDB, the apex government body under the Ministry of Industries and Production, citing that the board was not functioning either in terms of regulation or promotion of engineering enterprises, adding that malpractices had become endemic in the Board, exploitation of business by its staff had become a norm.

Interestingly, corruption and malpractices are also rampant in PSQCA where various cases of corruption and irregularities are under investigation. FIA is also investigating cases related to corruption and illegal appointments at PSQCA.

It may recall here that both PSQCA and EDB have even no testing facility to check fitness and quality of every new car being manufactured/ assembled in the country.  According to sources the change of organization, will not affect the overall affairs of the auto sector.

However, when the government decided to shelve EDB, Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association (PAMA) had appealed the government to immediately review the decision or announce a successor mechanism/organization to take over the existing day to day affairs seamlessly.

In a letter written to Prime minister, the association stated that the Cabinet’s decision to dissolve EDB will create a vacuum as there is no mention of any successor organization or mechanism to look after the ongoing affairs. The association claimed that apart from the criticism regarding EDB, the Board has also successfully developed sound procedural and legal framework for the growth of the industry and generally played a positive role.

Both Pakistan Association of Automotive Parts and Manufacturers (PAAPAM) and employees of EDB have already challenged the dissolution of the board in the courts.

When contacted, a spokesperson of PSQCA told Pakistan Today that the authority has made standard for monitoring the new vehicles. However, the four wheelers are yet to be formally included in the mandatory list. “We will arrange the testing and other facilities once it is included in the mandatory list,” he said adding that the authority is already testing two and three wheelers at its facility.

 

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Ghulam Abbas
Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]
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