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LAHORE: Federal Minister for Railways Azam Khan Swati has expressed his commitment of switching over to locally manufactured components of locomotives, coaches and wagons instead of spending huge foreign exchange to import these parts from other countries.

While talking to a delegation of Pakistan Association of Auto Parts and Accessories Manufacturers (PAAPAM), which met him here today in the lead of Chairman Abdur Razzaq Gauhar, the Railways minister observed that the parts being produced in Pakistan are not inferior to that of any other country. This is the only way to ease out foreign exchange pressure on the land, as the trade deficit of the country continued to rise, he added.

PAAPAM other delegation members included, ex-vice chairman Irfan Ahmed Qureshi, convenor of business development committee Mirza Sikander Baig, member business development committee Haji Muhammad Nazeer, and Secretary-General Ghulam Murtaza.

Azam Swati observed that the Railways was planning to bring more than four hundred grounded couches and wagons on track in the next few months.

The minister said that the Railways is taking all-out measures to increase its revenue, making it a profitable institution. He said that the PR is revamping different railway stations including the historical Lahore Railway Station. The Minister said we are also planning to establish facilitation centers across the country and the whole railway network will be monitored through his office.

While responding to questions of the delegation, he showed his commitment to tackling all impediments and traditional bottlenecks to bring the Railway into profitable entity. He agreed with the PAAPAM’s delegation proposal that a pre-qualification of vendors system of potential manufacturers was necessary to ensure the quality and transparent mechanism. Minster railway thanked the delegation and invited the PAAPAM to meet him next week in Islamabad to seek ways to develop a public-private partnership.

On this occasion, both the Pakistan Railways and the PAAPAM agreed to join hands to strengthen the local industry to grow, create more job opportunities, and curb the foreign exchange drain.

Earlier, the delegation briefed the minister on those engineering areas where PAAPAM could cooperate with the railways and other state-owned engineering entities. PAAPAM Chairman Abdur Razzaq Gauhar said this working collaboration would favourably impact the government’s vision of indigenization, leading to substantial saving of foreign exchange to the exchequer.

He said that the local industry is fully capable of bridging the huge gap of ever-rising trade deficit not only through enhancing exports but also by controlling unbridled imports through ‘import deletion’ of industrial replacement parts. He informed the minister that there is a huge possibility of import deletion of industrial replacement parts, in addition to automotive parts, through public-private partnership.

Through import deletion, we can minimize our dependence on imported goods by using reverse engineering technology in Pakistan under public–private partnership in line with the Chinese model, preventing the rapid outflow of billions of dollars spent on imported merchandize, he said.

“With a view to lessen the import bill of the country, the government, in collaboration with the vending industry, will itself have to take the ownership under a long-term public-private partnership, sharing both cost and obligation for the successful implementation of import deletion plan. For this, the government will have to amend the PPRA rules too, primarily by incorporating new clauses of taking full responsibility and risk sharing under the joint venture with the vendor industry,” he suggested.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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