Like previous documents TDAP’s role to enhance and develop Pakistan’s exports has yet again been emphasized. But unfortunately, TDAP has been playing the role of a stumbling block in unlocking the true potential of Pakistan’s exports and hardly any business sector would be satisfied with its role and its performance in boosting exports. Their very reactive nature mindset of government departments holds back this organization to create marvels in the area of export promotion.
The set of acronyms like Sectoral Councils, Trade Facilitation Units, to be set-up and run by TDAP is an exercise in futility. No such Council has been established by TDAP in the past and coupled with that non-availability of credible data to prove their utility is a glaring example of what has been stated here. Procedures are rotten and Help Desk is in name only. Any task assigned to TDAP has been marred by corruption in this organization. An amount of Rs. 44 billion has been earmarked, to be spent till June 2025, to boost Pakistan’s exports to US$ 57 billion by that time. The STPF itself admits that in its ‘2015-18’ Policy, out of Rs. 20 billion allocated to achieve the policy goals, only Rs. 1billion (one) was released.
The policy wows to resort to ‘Institutionalized Mechanism’ for robust monitoring & implementation of STPF 2020-25to strengthen the multi-organization cooperation, which have been a weak link in past in the line of efforts aimed at achieving policy objectives.
Projection of achieving US$ 57 billion by 2025 from present Rs. 25 billion would be achieved by increasing exports by at least US$ 8 billion per year, which we have not witnessed in our entire history so far. Therefore, it is an unrealistic target in view of the global competition in the type of products we are producing and exporting and with our given mindset. After dividing the products into traditional and developmental categories, TDAP has been assigned the role to prepare comprehensive product marketing strategies within next 3 months, and they would have support of Pakistan Trade Missions by giving them targets and product out-reach programmes. Let us see how TDAP achieves the assigned tasks in next 3 months, which will be the first litmus test in relation to the sincerity of those behind this document.
A high-powered National Export Development Board under the chairmanship of Prime Minister, with ministers of economic ministry, Governor of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), Chairman of Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Board of Investment(BOI), President of Federation of Pakistan Chambers and Industry (FPCCI), Chairman Pak-Business Council & President OICCI (Overseas Investment Chamber of Commerce & Industry). It may be added here that such boards were already there to help boost exports. But the question is why such boards failed to help achieve annual growth of US$ 8 billion, each year, over the preceding year. It is not known how regularly or frequently this board would be meeting to perform its functions efficiently.
In order to achieve STPF initiatives, multiple funding sources have been mentioned such as EDF (Export Development Fund); funding from Regular budget of MoC, PSDP (Public Sector Development Programe), sponsorship from international donors &financial institutions, & PPP (Public Private Partnership) would be managed by Ministry of Commerce. Critical enablers have been spelled out in great detail to support the effectiveness and efficiency of basic programme activities.
Be that as it may, all these moves appear very attractive on paper. However, their implementation would require a dedicated team of professionals from public and private sectors. Donors have an equally critical role to play in order to translate these words into firm actions. Availability of the required resources and critical backing of Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Governor of SBP can make it happen.
(Sajid Hussain is retired senior officer of commerce trade group. His last posting was Executive Director General, Trade Dispute Resolution Organisation till April 2020. Dr Ikramul Haq, Advocate Supreme Court, is Adjunct Faculty at Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), member Advisory Board and Visiting Senior Fellows of Pakistan Institute of Development Economics (PIDE))
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022