PSQCA greenlights reforms to boost efficiency and transparency

Testing Laboratories to be outsourced, workflows to be digitised under restructuring

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) Board of Directors (BoD) has set forth an ambitious restructuring plan. This plan was encapsulated in the vision of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) for PSQCA. 

This strategic roadmap entails essential measures such as the appointment of a Director General, collaborative efforts with international standards bodies, and the formulation of policies governing the establishment and outsourcing of testing laboratories. 

SIFC was constituted by the incumbent government to serve as a ‘One-Window’ platform to fast-track decision-making and promote as well as facilitate Foreign Direct Investment in the country, with the help of the civil and military leadership. 

Under the restructuring initiative, PSQCA is actively harnessing Business Process Reengineering (BPR) and digitalization to streamline its operational workflows. The Board has given the green light to draft and ratify policies, notably those related to the establishment and outsourcing of testing laboratories.

In a bid to enhance transparency, all food standards will soon be accessible free of charge on the PSQCA website, subsequent to the Board’s approval. Moreover, there are plans to extend the validity duration of product registration (licence) to three years, pending approval from the Federal Cabinet.

Addressing concerns surrounding confusion in product labelling, premises registration, and product registration for essential food items, PSQCA and Provincial Food Authorities are set to escalate the matter to the National Standards Steering Committee for Food and, if necessary, the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP).

As per the approved plan, provincial governments are urged to amend laws and regulations pertaining to Provincial Food Authorities, eliminating redundant standards and empowering clauses. This move aims to foster a more efficient regulatory framework.

A risk-based inspection system, integrated through the Integrated Risk Management System (IRMS) by Pakistan Single Window (PSW) of FBR, is also on the horizon to promote efficiency and compliance.

The proposed establishment of a centralized One-Stop Shop for food businesses, endorsed by the Board of Investment (BoI), seeks to seamlessly link various organizations through a unified portal or software, simplifying business processes.

In a collaborative effort, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) has shared crucial information about PSQCA and PCSIR processes with the Board of Investment (BoI) and National Information Technology Board (NITB), fostering enhanced collaboration and information exchange.

This means that a comprehensive effort is underway to harmonize food standards by engaging federal and regional/provincial food authorities. This includes excluding non-animal products from import restrictions and introducing risk-based inspections with predefined sampling criteria.

While these reforms promise substantial benefits for both the industry and the public, concerns have been voiced by PSQCA employees regarding potential dysfunctionality of the new steps and regulatory issues surrounding them. 

Achieving a balance between progress and addressing these apprehensions will be pivotal for the successful implementation of these transformative changes in Pakistan’s quality control landscape.

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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