PM directs setting up shipping regulatory body

Muhammad Anis & Sohail Afzal & Ag App
Wednesday, Jul 10, 2024

KARACHI/ISLAMABAD/LAHORE: Approving a proposal, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has directed formation of a body to regulate ports and shipping sectors to resolve issues of export and import.

Prime Minister has also issued directives to take measures to increase efficiency of the Green Channel. He ordered the Customs offices remain open 24 hours a day, using modern technology to prevent under-invoicing and misdeclaration.

Former Vice President of FPCCI and Director of Pakistan Single Window and Supply Chain expert Khurram Ijaz gave these details while talking to “Jang” after a meeting with Prime Minister in Islamabad on Tuesday.

Khurram Ijaz said Prime Minister remained focused during the meeting on “ease of doing business” to improve the country’s economy and increase investment. Federal Minister for Shipping Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh, Federal Minister of State Ali Pervaiz, Advisor to Prime Minister Ahad Cheema and Chairman FBR were present in the meeting, he said.

Khurram Ejaz said that during the meeting in Karachi with PM on trade and industry, he had given some suggestions on shipping industry and Customs issues. “Appreciating his proposals, Prime Minister invited him to Islamabad so that he could review them in detail”, he said. Prime Minister also took several important decisions regarding trade and industry. including appointment of a regulator for the shipping industry like other countries in the world, he said.

Khurram Ejaz said that in the meeting that lasted for 40 to 50 minutes, the PM also appreciated the proposal to create Safe Port like Safe City to prevent misdeclaration.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif directed the Customs to enhance efficiency of Green Channel to improve clearance system. He said officers of good reputation should be appointed in the Customs Intelligence.

On the instructions of Prime Minister, another meeting would be held after two days for reforms in the sector of port and shipping.

Khurram Ejaz said he gave suggestions to Prime Minister for improvement in country’s economy and to facilitate trade. Some measures were also identified to improve the affairs of Customs, he added.

Khurram said Prime Minister was working hard, and seemed serious about bringing the country out of economic crisis.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Tuesday announced a package of Rs50 billion to provide a relief of Rs4 to Rs7 per unit to protected domestic consumers for three months. The consumers using 200 units of electricity per month fall in the protected category.

“At least 25 million consumers making 94 percent of total electricity consumers will benefit from the announcement which I am going to make today,” he said while speaking at an event in Islamabad to discuss the matters related to electricity bills and energy sector.

He was flanked by the Deputy Prime Minister Ishaq Khan, Muhammad Aurangzeb, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Awais Khan Leghari and Attaullah Tarar.

Shehbaz said the government had spared Rs50 billion from the development fund to benefit 94 percent protected domestic consumers from July to September.

He also assured the people of further relief, as the government had got a fiscal space consequent to its ongoing measures of taxing the elite class, expanding the tax net, closing the non-performing entities and plugging the holes causing financial leakages.

Announcing the relief package, he said the protected domestic consumers were correct in their protest against the increase in electricity tariff and that was why the government had decided to benefit them by sparing funds from the development fund. He said the government had also taken the IMF on board while taking the crucial decision.

Shehbaz said with the support of party Quaid Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, his last government put politics at stake for the sake of saving the state and saving Pakistan from default. He said the PTI government raised fake slogans and made promises with the government, which were never fulfilled. It was said that 300 billion dollars looted money would be brought back. “The PTI government could not only bring 300 billion dollars back but also 190 million pounds scams surfaced,” he said.

Shehbaz said the incumbent government took up the task of serving the people adding that with the support of allies, they were meeting big challenges and would continue to do so. “It was said that the government was preparing the IMF budget,” he said questioning if there was any secret that the government was going to secure an IMF programme.

The premier pointed out that the PTI founder Imran Khan then said he would rather die than approach the IMF but instead he got the IMF programme on tough conditions. The state kitty incurred a big loss when the prices of petroleum products were reduced while the crude prices in the international market were on the rise.

He said during his visit to Balochistan, it was decided to solarize 28,000 tubewells and the same model would be implemented in other provinces too. “The government has already decided to solarize one million tubewells to save 3.5 billion dollars spent annually on oil import,” he said.

He said the federal and Balochistan governments reached an agreement on Monday to solarise around 28,000 tubewells to save Rs80-90 billion annually, as the consumers were defaulting on power bills.

During the last decade, around Rs500 billion went down the drain this way; therefore, the government decided to disconnect their supply and solarise all the tubewells costing Rs55 billion to the federal and provincial governments with 70/30 proportion respectively.

He pointed out that some new categories had been chosen in the federal budget to tax the elite class like tax on land developers and real estate business. “For the first time, the government has taxed the real estate sector and it should be taxed more,” he said.

He mentioned that there would be 100 percent digitalisation of the FBR while the government had also started downsizing of departments to save expenditure.

He also highlighted that taxes worth Rs1,200 billion were being evaded at the Karachi Port, in addition to another Rs2,700 billion worth of tax claims pending with the courts.

“These are the challenges and parasites which are eating up the country. If we have to make the country prosper, we will have to get rid of loans and begging,” he said.

Separately, talking to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi at the Prime Minister’s House, Shehbaz stressed that the international community must recognize the burden being shouldered by Pakistan while hosting such a large refugee population and demonstrate collective responsibility. He sought the UNHCR’s support in mobilizing adequate resources to supplement Pakistan’s efforts in this regard and urged the UN body to play its role in promoting durable solution to address the situation of Afghan refugees, including through safe and dignified return and reintegration in their homeland, as well as third-country relocation.

The prime minister Tuesday congratulated Muhammad Ayan Kashif, a student of Daanish School, for clinching the first position in the matriculation examination of Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education, Lahore. In a statement, Shehbaz said Ayan Kashif proved his mettle by securing 1,190 marks in the board examination. Also felicitating Ayan Kashif’s family and teachers, the prime minister said the male and female students of Daanish School had set a new example of success and capability. He reiterated the government’s resolve to expand Daanish Schools network across the country to bring about a change through education.

Shehbaz also congratulated Moez Haider and Maheen Sajjad for grabbing second and third positions respectively. He also felicitated three female students Abeera Ashraf, Zainab Asif and Sehar Shakeel for obtaining second position in the science group.