The federal govt and the provinces have finally agreed on food quality enforcement. Why did it take them six years? 

Why did the issue remain unresolved for years despite intervention of CCI?

After years of contention and multiple interventions by the Council of Common Interests (CCI), the federal government and provincial food authorities have finally reached an agreement on the enforcement of food quality standards in Pakistan. This consensus comes after a prolonged struggle for authority and control over food quality regulations.

Since the inception of Provincial Food Authorities (PFAs) across all four provinces, there has been a continuous dispute with the Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), the national standards body under the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST). The core of the disagreement lay in which entity had the authority to enforce quality standards for food items—a power associated with significant control and potential financial kickbacks for officials.

Despite multiple CCI meetings over six years, the issue remained unresolved. The 18th Amendment to the Constitution, which devolved many powers to the provinces, exacerbated the tug-of-war between PFAs and PSQCA. While PFAs lacked the mandate to create standards and quality rules for food items—a prerogative of the PSQCA—they sought the authority to enforce these standards, leading to a standoff.

Manufacturers, caught between complying with both PFAs and PSQCA, pushed for a resolution. This pressure culminated in a recent breakthrough during a National Standards Steering Committee (NSSC) meeting at the Ministry of Science and Technology. Attended by representatives from PFAs, PSQCA, and other stakeholders, the meeting marked a significant step towards harmonizing food standards.

 

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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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