LAHORE: To expedite and accelerate the pace of ongoing trade with India through Wagha Border, the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called for an early implementation of a well-tailored and well thought-out Integrated Border Management system at Wagha in consultation with all the public and private sector stakeholders.
The call was given by the LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari while presiding over the first-ever meeting of Wagha Border Trade Facilitation Working Group constituted by the LCCI here at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday.
Ali Pirzada, Director General, Policy & Projects, Punjab Board of Investment and Trade, Brig.(r) Nadeem Iqbal Raja, Director Dry Ports of National Logistics Cell, Dr.Khurram Muneer, Deputy Director, Conformity Assessment, Pakistan Standard and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), Nadeem Khan, CEO of M/s Raziq International, Chairman LCCI Standing Committee on Pak-India Trade Promotion Aftab Ahmad Vohra and Ms Nasira Taskeen gave their respective point of view on as to how the impediments to the two-way trade could be removed.
The LCCI President said that the Lahore Chamber wanted of the government to introduce a new management system without any further delay so that the trade between Pakistan and India could flourish. He said that since the present government had clearly given its view on business with regional countries particularly trade with India therefore all the concerned Public and Private sector entities should be on same page so that a collective approach and collective wisdom could be applied to put the Pak-India trade vehicle in top gear.
Engineer Sohail Lashari was of the view that that dry ports should be activated instead of managing trade activities at border. Trucks should be given access to dry ports to complete the procedural formalities before going to border terminal to avoid long queues. He also emphasized to have a complete computerized system at both sides of the border for an effective liaison and smooth and efficient services.
The LCCI President said that in Amritsar large hotels are being constructed as Indian government expects large influx of businessmen and tourists from Pakistan. Similarly, Government of India had also formed the “Land Port Authority” for regulating and facilitating the trade through land routes. Keeping in view, the importance and worldwide recognition of regional trade, Pakistani government should also develop required infrastructure at the border terminal. “The two Governments have announced to keep the border open for 24 hours, for trade and business. Therefore, it is very crucial to take immediate steps for creating a trade enabling environment at the Wagha Border.”
Mr. Ali Pirzada, Director General, Policy & Projects, Punjab Board of Investment and Trade said that the PBIT should have a permanent office at the border terminal to facilitate the businessmen. Dr.Khurram Muneer, Deputy Director, Conformity Assessment, PSQCA said that the PSQCA was in the process of setting up its lab at the Wagha Border that would be completed soon.
Aftab Ahmad Vohra pointed out lack of infrastructure and scanning facilities. He said that presently there is a list of 137 items which are tradable through land route and this list is going to be increased to 500 items very soon, it will become much difficult for the terminal staff to handle more goods at the terminal. He also proposed that instead of scanning all the goods going across the border the search should be done randomly to save time.
He also proposed that a trust should be formed like Karachi Port Trust to handle the operations at the Wagha Border trade terminal while the security arrangements could be handed over to any law enforcement agency like Rangers.
Brig. ® Nadeem Iqbal Raja, the Director Dry Ports of National Logistics Cell said that a Master Plan for the development of the Wagha Border trade terminal is ready and as soon as the funds are released by the government the plan would be executed. He said that the strict security is maintained for the safety of goods lying in the terminal as any miscreant could damage the goods lying there while respectable businessmen are and will be allowed entry into the terminal although the WEBOC system of customs does not need any physical presence of the importer/exporter there.
In his concluding remarks, the LCCI President Engineer Sohail Lashari said that the set of suggestions would be forwarded to the Ministry of Commerce for implementation and turn Pak-India trade hassle free.