In stark contrast to the claims of promoting transparency and good governance, the government seems to be creating problems for the gems and jewellery industry in its day-to-day affairs.
In the first week of July, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) administration approved a 14-member board of the Pakistan Gems and Jewellery Development Company (PGJDC), a public limited company responsible for promoting and supporting the gems and jewellery industry, but the board lacked representation from the private sector.
Not only true representatives of the private sector were sidelined, politicians were unnecessarily included in the board, triggering fierce opposition. The board comprises three female PML-N members of parliament.
The composition of the board openly violates laws of the company, which clearly say that the company’s board must include chairmen of the All Pakistan Gems Merchant and Jewellery Association (APGMJA) and All Pakistan Commercial Exporters Association (APCEA) – the two leading private sector associations of the industry.
Habibur Rehman, chairman of APGMJA, a grouping of gems and jewellery makers, traders and exporters, told The Express Tribune that this government was following in the footsteps of the previous administration and was deliberately creating hurdles in the way of gems and jewellery industry.
“Lack of seriousness on the part of the government is evident from its actions. It is placing politicians and others who do not have any experience of the industry in the company’s board where gems and jewellery exporters are badly needed to step up exports of the country,” Rehman added.
Leading gems and jewellery exporters believe the presence of politicians will not serve the company well. Such state actions are detrimental to the industry, its growth and exports, they say.
The previous Pakistan Peoples Party-led coalition government had also brought politicians from the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid-e-Azam (PML-Q) in the board, which set a bad precedent at a company that was supposed to be run by professionals.
“It is quite clear that the people who are at the helm of affairs do not want to run this company transparently,” Rehman said, while criticising the government’s decision to include politicians in the board.
APCEA Chairman Atif Rasheed commented that the illegal constitution of the company’s board was highly disturbing for the private sector. “We have decided to go to court to get our grievances addressed,” he said.
Rasheed believes that the politicians lacked the technical knowhow needed to promote the industry and they would only vitiate the working atmosphere and affect overall governance in the company.
“We repeatedly asked the government to equip the board with true stakeholders, but the authorities turned down all requests,” the industrialist added.
The chief executive of Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), which gives recommendations for PGJDC board members, was contacted several times for his comments, but he was not available.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2014.
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