ISLAMABAD: As the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) failed to test food and non-food items, the federal cabinet has approved the inclusion of 61 new items in the ‘compulsory certification mark scheme’ of Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), an attached department of MoST.
The federal cabinet, which met on Tuesday, approved a summary forwarded by MoST, which, according to official sources, was prepared in coordination with the Ministry of Industries and Ministry of Commerce for the inclusion of 61 food and non-food items in the compulsory certification mark scheme.
PSQCA, under the law, is authorised to test, certify and give licences to the compulsory items included in the scheme. Presently, there were 105 food and nonfood items in the list which after the inclusion of the new list has been expanded to 166 items.
Taking to Twitter, MoST Minister Fawad Chaudhry claimed that the list was expanded after 10 years, and that “only quality products would now be manufactured and imported in the country”.
Interestingly, the minister seems unaware of the ground realities of quality and standards of goods being manufactured or imported under the supervision of PSQCA. There were many items in the list which have never been tested by the authority.
According to an official source, electronic items like a refrigerator, which was included in the list, has never been tested by the authority. Similarly, the electricity reading metre has also never been tested by PSQCA despite thousands of consumers expressing serious reservations about the quality of metres.
Sugar was also part of the compulsory list but none of the sugar mills in the country had obtained a licence from the authority, sources said.
Likewise, the cement industry had also rejected the standards of PSQCA, as the authority remained unable to test cement for years. Many sectors have even challenged the certification of PSQCA in courts.
“Most of PSQCA testing labs are closed/dysfunctional, while the officials of the authority issue certificates/licences only after taking bribes,” an insider claimed. “The inclusion of more items will only add to the bribes of PSQCA officials, who are used to ‘selling’ certificates and licences to manufacturers and importers. Not a single consignment gets cleared from ports without commissions/kickbacks.”
According to available documents, the new items that were added to the compulsory certification list of PSQCA included shaving cream, skin powder, hair cream, multi-nutrient fertilizer, biofertilizer, Ammonium Sulphate (fertilizer), Potassium Sulphate (fertilizer grade); passenger car tyres and rims, rubber tyres for bicycles, single-use sterile surgical glove, chemical admixture for concrete, sanitary taps, buried polyethylene pipes for supply of gaseous metric series, polyethylene, polypropylene pipes, polypropylene pipes- dimensions, polyethylene upright storage tanks, medical diagnostic X-ray equipment, Uninterruptible Power Systems (UPS), coaxial communication cables, Minimum Energy Performance Standard (MEPS) and energy star rating for television receivers, and sound system equipment (headphones and earphones).
Similarly, medical electrical equipment-dosimeters, hot-rolled carbon steel sheet of commercial and drawing qualities, cold reduced carbon steel sheet of commercial and drawing qualities, heat-treatable steels, alloy steels and free-cutting steels, free-cutting steels, safety of amusement rides and amusement devices, lighters – safety specification, aluminum and aluminum alloys-casting-chemical composition and mechanical properties, spectacle frames, standard practice for preparation of paintbrushes for evaluation, switches for household and similar fixed electrical installations, secondary cells and batteries containing alkaline or other non-acid electrolytes secondary lithium cells and batteries for portable application, cloth washing machine for household use, multiple split-system air-conditioners and air to air heat pumps, non-ducted air conditioners and heat pump, electric irons for household or similar use, plug & socket outlets household and similar purposes, plugs and socket-outlets for household, olive/virgin and refined olive pomace oil, coffee & its preparation, fortified wheat flour and fruit juices and nectars were also included in the list.