Quality standards, among others, relate to a product’s manufacturing and performance specifications and are generally benchmarked against prevailing world-class standards for compliance, performance, and international acceptance. The Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) was, by Act-VI of 1996, created by the Government of Pakistan to provide one-window service for standardisation and conformity assessment of processes and products. The main function of the Authority, according to its charter, is to foster and promote standards and conformity assessment as a means of advancing the national economy, promoting national industrial efficiency and development and protecting consumer rights.

Services provided by PSQCA include accreditation, standardisation, and QC labs. It regulates and registers the inspection agencies (IAs). PSQCA claims to have prepared and disseminated the standards to different industrial sectors. But how their standards’ dissemination has improved industrial sectors’ efficiency and performance is yet to be quantified.

Furthermore, despite existing in a protective environment for a long time, local industry has failed to improve upon operational and energy efficiency aspects. Local products are of minimum quality and generally do not conform to any minimum international standards to compete with similar products in the international market. Furthermore, core technologies are imported, and their efficiencies and performance cannot be controlled by local manufacturers.

Recently, the National Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (NEECA) has been established under the Ministry of Energy (Power Division) and serves as a federal focal agency mandated for initiating, catalysing, and coordinating all end-use efficiency energy conservation activities in different various energy-consuming sectors of the economy. Among the goals of the National Energy Conservation Policy are sustainable development and improving industrial efficiency and economic productivity. NEECA’s mandate includes five key sectoral areas which include transport, buildings, agriculture, industry, and power, but for the moment NEECA has prioritised three main sectors, including industry, consumer products and transport.

NEECA envisions beneficial collaborations to attract international financing from donors, who can play a vital role in making NEECA a success. The authority further enumerates having engaged with various stakeholders including associations, such as appliances, manufacturers and assemblers, builders, developers, industries, and transport, to introduce and implement the compliance of efficient energy standards and a labelling regime in Pakistan. Similar to PSQ Authority, NEECA has the vision to collaborate with leading technical universities, private sector energy consumers, and electric appliances and vehicle manufacturers, to address Pakistan’s energy intensity.

Moreover, like PSQA, NEECA also claims to have issued, not developed, certain energy-efficiency standards. Thus, it’s not a process of creativity—studying the local industry and accordingly developing a timeline for facilitating the implementation of already existing international energy efficiency standards, but a cosmetic process of issuing standards that already exist. Moreover, the mechanism and method through which the minimum energy performance standards (MEPS)—which have already been introduced, would be implemented, and results measured are still to be enumerated. Thus, it appears that a separate entity (NEECA) has been created to manage energy efficiency in industrial sectors, something which appears to overlap the mandate of PSQA in the energy consumption domain.

Pakistan is resource-constrained, with a limited industrial base that is operating in a protective environment and without any oversight. Therefore, existing bodies should be audited against their mandate instead of creating new regulatory bodies, which results in bureaucratic hassles that are contrary to the spirit of one-window operation and inimical to industrial progress. Instead of setting up new organisations, lessons should be drawn from the performance of existing regulatory bodies and results incorporated as input to the strategy of the regulatory bodies, and their scope broadened with changing industrial dynamics.