ISLAMABAD: The gems and jewellery sector has urged the federal government to reject a summary moved by the Ministry of Industries and Production regarding winding up of the Pakistan Gems and Jewellery Development Company (PGJDC).
In a letter to Tasneem Ahmed Qureshi, the parliamentary secretary Ministry of Industries and Production, the association has urged the government to protect the gems and jewellery sector of the country which is earning precious foreign exchange for the nation.
The letter says, “the gems and jewellery sector, strongly urge the government through your kind self to reject the summary of winding up of PGJDC and hire a permanent CEO of the company who could come up with a viable solution for sustaining operations of the company so that the development process of this sector could be continued.”
We sincerely hope that under the patronage of (the) Federal Minister for Industries and Production and your kind self, this company will make this sector one of the top exporting sectors of the country,” the letter said.
The gems and jewellery sector of Pakistan has enormous potential for export growth and this sector alone can become the reason for the revival of the economy of Pakistan if channelised in the right direction and the government focuses on its development through introducing trade-friendly policies and reforms and strengthening the organizational structure of the PGJDC, being the only entity in Pakistan mandated to uplift this sector.
The association argued that the company was established after a detailed consultative process between the gems and jewellery sector across the country and the relevant quarters of the government.
The sector strategy was formulated jointly by the private sector, the USAID and the government of Pakistan, in which all stakeholders agreed that in order to develop this sector on a continuous basis, the presence of a dedicated company is imperative, which could act as a platform through which developmental interventions could be executed.
Accordingly, PGJDC has contributed a lot towards the development and uplift of the gems and jewellery industry of Pakistan through Skill development, technology up-gradation, quality assurance and marketing/branding, and has played a pivotal role in the export growth of the industry in Pakistan, as a result, it gave global recognition to Pakistan.
It is through the interventions of PGJDC that the exports of this sector which were only $45 million before the inception of the company, through the interventions of PGJDC increased to $1.2 billion in 2014.
Additionally, a lot of jobs have been created and a number of beneficiaries of the initiatives of the company have either improved their existing businesses or acquired jobs both inland and abroad.
Unfortunately, for the past almost five years, the company is operating on a stop-gap arrangement and no permanent chief executive officer is hired. On the contrary, its leadership role is handed over to part-time CEOs who do not have any stake or interest in the operations of the company or the development of this very potential sector of Pakistan. Had a permanent CEO been hired on time, the company would have been made sustainable by now.
The letter said that a summary for the winding up of PGJDC is under consideration within the Ministry of Industries and Production. This has created serious resentment within the gems and jewellery sector and the sector is not at all in favour of this proposal.
The gems and jewellery association further argued that it was the need of the hour to strengthen this organisation so that it could further the development process of this sector. Additionally, if the Company is wound up, heavy investment done by the government amounting to billions of rupees for the establishment of the company's projects across Pakistan will be wasted, the association maintained.
The association said that a small group of persons are continuously misguiding the minister for industries and production against the PGJDC and they are trying to establish a new entity named, “Gems and Jewellery Authority”.
The association said that it would like to submit that if the government intends to establish an authority, then instead of reinventing the wheel by establishing a new setup, the PGJDC may be upgraded and regulatory powers can be assigned to it so that the costly assets contained in its projects and the experienced human resource does not get wasted.
Furthermore, the federal cabinet has already upgraded the PGJDC to the level of an autonomous body; hence making it an authority will be quite easy.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023