ISLAMABAD: Disconcerting revelations have emerged in a session of the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce held at Parliament House on Monday. It was revealed that the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP), an integral department under the Ministry of Commerce, is entangled in unpaid debt obligations of approximately Rs 260 billion.
In the meeting chaired by senator Zeeshan Khanzada, a comprehensive strategy was discussed to address the debt repayment issues of the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP). The committee scrutinized the outstanding dues owed by TCP to various government entities, encompassing commercial bank loans and accrued markup, totaling a substantial 259.26 billion Pakistani rupees. The breakdown included a principal amount of 105.51 billion rupees and 153.74 billion rupees in markup.
During the session, the Chairman of TCP provided insights into the corporation’s efforts towards debt recovery. Notable initiatives included third-party audits on subsidy payments and consistent reminders to recipient agencies. To streamline the process, directives were issued to concerned ministries, urging them to submit summaries to the Finance Division reflecting the payables to TCP in their financial demands for FY 2013-2024.
The Chairman further highlighted ongoing efforts involving recurrent meetings with Finance Divisions and relevant federal and provincial recipients. Despite these efforts, the matter was deferred for further reporting, emphasizing the committee’s commitment to a speedy and equitable resolution of the financial predicament. The Committee concluded that discussions will persist until a conclusive resolution is achieved.
Simultaneously, the committee shifted its focus to enhancing kinnow (Tangerine) exports. Officials highlighted that Pakistan predominantly exports kinnows to Afghanistan, UAE, Russia, Philippines, Kazakhstan, and Indonesia. Despite a decline in kinnow exports last season due to floods, the Ministry aims for a substantial rebound, setting an ambitious export target of $150 million for the current season.
Deputy Chairman Senate, Mirza Muhammad Afridi, proposed expanding export destinations to include South Korea, citing potential demand. He further advocated for domestic exhibitions to raise awareness among locals about the demand for these products. The Committee Chairman recommended the Ministry devise a specific export strategy for oranges, predominantly produced in Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
In addition to the financial challenges faced by TCP, the Senate Committee also discussed the “Imports and Exports (Control) Amendment Bill, 2023.” Introduced by Senators Zeeshan Khanzada, Faisal Saleem Rehman, and Muhammad Abdul Qadir, the amendment proposes restrictions on the export of raw salt, urging the Federal Government to impose conditions.
The Ministry argued that the Imports and Exports (Control) Act, 1950, serves as the primary legal instrument regulating international trade in Pakistan. The Ministry emphasized that inclusion-wise prohibitions and restrictions in the act may not be appropriate, as it provides powers to the Federal Government to regulate trade.
Deputy Chairman Senator Mirza Muhammad Afridi emphasized Pakistan’s immense rock salt reserves, stressing the need for a policy to maximize revenue. He stressed that this commodity has been exported internationally in raw form without a policy that allows maximum revenue to be regained in Pakistan. It has been noted in the past that rich salt, such as the Himalayan Pink salt has been exported in the form of rocks from Pakistan and the profit for value addition and packaging was foregone by the exporters. The committee deferred the matter for future deliberation, requesting the amended draft of EPO 22 and deciding to hold meetings with stakeholders on the legality of the amendment.
The Senate Committee also addressed the duty-free import of cars up to 1350cc for disabled persons. Senator Mohammad Abdul Qadir proposed allowing disabled individuals to import used cars, given the financial constraints. The Committee referred the matter to the Senate Finance Committee for sales tax exemption.
In attendance were Deputy Chairman Senate Mirza Muhammad Afridi, Senator Fida Muhammad, Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, Senator Danesh Kumar, Senator Palwasha Muhammad Zai Khan, Senator Mohammad Abdul Qadir, Special Secretary Commerce Sarah Saeed, Chairman TCP Syed Rafeo Bashir Shah, and other senior officials from relevant departments.