Senate body for using EDF only to enhance country’s export volume

Committee raises concerns over non-appointment of chairman and board of TDRC

ISLAMABAD  -   Senate Standing Committee on Commerce on Friday directed that Export Development Fund (EDF) should not be used for infrastructure, as it should be spent on projects that could enhance the country’s export volume.

The third day inaugural session of the Senate Standing Committee on Commerce was convened under the chairpersonship of Senator Anusha Rahman Ahmad Khan at Parliament House. The session aimed to gather briefings on the operations and performance of the Ministry of Commerce and its attached departments. The director of the Trade Dispute Resolution Organisation (TDRO) informed the committee about the organization’s work. He stated that the primary role of TDRO is to resolve disputes between companies and it also serves as the secretariat for the Trade Dispute Resolution Commission, whose act was passed in 2023 but is still operating without a chairman and Board. The Committee raised concerns over the non-appointment of the chairman and Board of TDRC. The director of TDRO mentioned that the chairman and Board of TDRC have not been appointed because the rules have not been passed by the Cabinet. Senator Anusha Rahman asserted that members of the Board could be appointed through a resolution. The Committee also expressed concern over the vacant post of DG of TDRO for the last three years, stating that it reflects poorly on the government’s commitment, given the importance of the role.

Additionally, the committee received a briefing from the CEO of Pakistan Expo Centre about the operations of the company. CEO Mariam Khawar informed the committee that the company oversees three expo centers: Lahore Expo Centre, Peshawar Expo Centre, and Quetta Expo Centre. She mentioned that while Lahore Expo Centre has been operational since 2010 and is booked until 2025, construction work on the Peshawar and Quetta Expo Centres has not been completed. The company is considering presenting the case of the Peshawar Expo Centre to the Export Development Fund, as 65% of the project has been completed. Senator Anusha Rahman Ahmad categorically stated that funds from the EDF should not be utilized for the construction of Expo Centres, as the Ministry of Planning is mandated to undertake such initiatives. She emphasized that the primary focus of the EDF should be on projects that could enhance the country’s export volume.

Furthermore, the Committee analyzed the performance of Lahore and Faisalabad Garment Cities. Officials briefed the Committee that both organizations have been profitable but have not achieved maximum output due to a shortage of funds. Federal Minister for Commerce Jam Kamal Khan stated that the Ministry is focused on diversifying the country’s exports, and resolving issues related to Faisalabad and Lahore Garment Cities is crucial in this regard. Senator Anusha Rahman was of the view that only perseverance and dedication can yield positive and lasting results. She emphasized the need for funds to be allocated for the capacity building of profitable organizations. The meeting was attended by Senator Sarmad Ali, Senator Amir Waliuddin Chisti, Senator Muhammad Tallal Badar, Senator Saleem Mandviwalla, Federal Minister for Commerce Jam Kamal Khan, Secretary for the Ministry of Commerce Ahsan Ali Mangi, and other senior officials of relevant departments.

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