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ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has opened the land route for commercial activities with Afghanistan and Central Asian Republics (CARs).

This was stated by the senior officials of the Ministry of Industries and Production while briefing the meeting of the sub-Committee on the Senate Standing Committee on Industries and Production held here on Friday under the Convenership of Senator Fida Muhammad Khan.

The meeting was held to examine the problems faced by the Export Processing Zone (EPZs) of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).

In relation to restriction on the export of trading goods to Afghanistan and the CARs, the panel was informed that the Ministry of Commerce has issued a notification allowing the export of manufactured goods via land route alone to Afghanistan and CARs. Trading and warehousing were restricted. Clarification has been demanded by the Ministry of Commerce in this regard. The facility incentive of trading via land route to promote business avenues will be reviewed in light of the decision of the ECC of the Cabinet.

The committee reviewed details of the Risalpur Export Processing Zone (REPZ) and the EPZA’s joint venture with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zone Development and Management Company (KPEZDMC). The member panel was informed of the progress on the project and the challenges that ensued.

Steps urged to develop barter trade mechanism with Afghanistan

The committee was informed that 92 acres of the EPZA had been developed and since export zones are exempt from GST on electricity, the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has issued a letter to Peshawar Electricity Supply Company (PESCO) in this regard. It is expected that the GST exemption should begin with the next billing cycle. The issue of uninterrupted power supply was taken up by the committee, which remains a major challenge in the development of the REPZ.

The committee was informed that the PESCO is in the process of providing an independent feeder for this purpose, which is due to be completed by December. Another option was that a connection is taken from PASDEC; this would take a month. The committee directed that both parties get together and discuss modalities, after which details are to be submitted to the committee.

Regarding the dilapidated infrastructure of the REPZ, it was recommended that KPEZDMC may be directed to implement the terms and conditions of the MOU regarding improvements. Routine infrastructure maintenance was stressed.

Senator Falak Naz and Senator Hidayat Ullah and senior officers of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zone Development and Management Company, PESCO along with all concerned also attended the meeting.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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