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PESHAWAR: While underscoring need for effective measures for promotion of trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Torkham Border Management Committee has called for expediting clearance of goods-laden trucks — a process that has been slowed down due to ongoing work on the National Logistics Cell (NLC) terminal.

According to a press release issued on Sunday, the issue was raised at the 14th meeting of the committee held at the Custom House in Torkham under the chairmanship of Additional Collector of Customs Muhammad Tayyab.

The meeting was attended by vice president of the Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI), Zia-ul-Haq Sarhadi, deputy collector for appraisement, Amanat Khan, assistant director for transit, Amanullah Khan, assistant commissioner of Torkham, Miss Noor, superintendent of Customs for Torkham, Sadiq Akbar, and chairman of the Land-Route Standing Committee of the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Imtiaz Ahmad Ali.

The Afghan side was represented by a delegation, including Commander for Border Security Maulvi Khalid, said the press release.

Speaking on the occasion, vice president of the PAJCCI said the federal government has waived off duties and levies till December 31 on import of tomato and onion from Afghanistan and Iran, with the objective of stabilising prices of these commodities in the country which shot up after floods inflicted considerable damage on their crops.

Soon after the government’s decision, trucks carrying the items began arriving from across Afghanistan to the border crossing. However, because long queues have been formed due to construction work on the NLC terminal at Torkham, clearance is taking a lot of time. Any further delay can cause damage to the perishable commodities.

Mr Sarhadi, therefore, called for chalking out a mechanism for early clearance of the perishable items. Apart from tomato and onion, hundreds of trucks laden with fresh fruits have been stuck up in the queues awaiting clearance, putting millions in investment at stake.

He also told the meeting that hundreds of trucks were parked on the road from Peshawar to Torkham, waiting for clearance. The delay in getting clearance is not only inflicting losses on the businessmen but also on the national exchequer.

During the meeting it was also demanded of the Afghan government to reduce taxes and duties on export of coal to Pakistan. The representatives of the Afghan government held out an assurance that the demand would be conveyed to the relevant authorities.

The Afghan delegation thanked the Pakistani authorities for increasing the number of trucks cleared daily from 500 to 1,200. The additional collector of Customs said soon the number of trucks cleared daily would be enhanced to 2,000.

In response to some questions, Muhammad Tayyab apprised the meeting that the provision of Afghan custom certificate and DG for trucks carrying fresh fruits to Pakistan has been made mandatory because some businessmen are misusing relaxation in duties for Afghan products and sending over fruits of neighbouring countries.

The delegations from the two countries agreed to ensure ban on supply of fertiliser and sugar from Pakistan to Afghanistan. The meeting ended on a cordial note with a resolve to continuing the practice and even replicating it at other border posts, like Chaman, Kharlachi and Angoor Adda.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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