ISLAMABAD: In a rare move, the commerce ministry on Monday went public to express its frustration against the finance ministry for using exporters’ money for budget financing and decided to take up the issue with Prime Minister Syed Yousaf Raza Gilani.
A meeting of the Board of Administrators of Export Development Fund (EDF), headed by Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim, demanded that the EDF should be directly given to the commerce ministry instead of going into the treasury.
“The board expressed its concerns over delay in the release of funds and agreed to take up the matter with the prime minister,” said an official handout. The fund has piled up to Rs168 million during the first quarter of the calendar year.
The EDF is being generated by deducting 0.25% of the export proceeds. It is meant for the promotion of exports but the finance ministry, over the years, has been using it for budget financing. The total amount is said to have crossed Rs7 billion. One of the major objectives of EDF is to fund for the development of training institutes in order to develop human resource in the country.
The board of administrators also decided to release the outstanding Rs800 million claims under Freight Subsidy Scheme. The board was informed that this liability has been pending since 2007 and agreed that this amount be sanctioned in three installments of Rs250 million, Rs250 million and Rs 300 million.
The board also agreed to release funds for the development of Chambers of Commerce and in this respect Rs50 million was sanctioned for the construction of Federal Chamber of Commerce building in Islamabad. The cost of this building is estimated to be Rs100 million. Half of the expenses will be contributed by EDF and the rest will be generated by the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).
The board also sanctioned Rs20 million for Tribal Area Chamber of Commerce and Rs4.9 million for Dera Ismail Khan Chamber of Commerce.
An amount of Rs30 million was approved for Pakistan Institute of Fashion Designing. The board was informed that the institute is playing a very important role and a new setup has been established in Peshawar. A report has been demanded on the National Institute of Leather Technology (NILT).
The board agreed that this is a very important institute and a full working needs to be done to revive it. For this purpose, a grant of Rs5 million has been sanctioned in the first stage to meet the current expenses and a full report has been demanded in one month’s time.
For exports promotion, Rs172 million were approved for the establishment of Mango Treatment Project. The project will be carried out in collaboration with a qualified standard company, which will match the contribution made by the ministry.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 23rd, 2011.