The government move to take control of Quality Review Committee (QRC) from Rice Exporters Association of Pakistan (Reap) dealt no good to export of rice which dipped 35 to 40 percent. Exporters are now taking the issue as one of the stumbling blocks in the export of rice. The QRC in government control has created uncertainty about exports, they added.
Though the negotiations with the government were going on, the issue remains unresolved for the last around eight months. Reap was trying to restore the status of QRC getting again under the control of the association. A leading exporter of rice, on condition of anonymity said the Ministry of Commerce (MoC), while taking control of the QRC, has promoted corruption and mismanagement in the committee.
The MoC vide notification number 4(10)/05-E superseded public notice dated March 3,1999 and had taken fiscal and other control of the QRC and placed it under the control of Director General (DG) Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) as its chairman. However, on the other hand the small exporters who had concerns about the earlier status of QRC under Reap, had welcomed the move while demanding that the ministry and TDAP should also ensure complete recovery of proceeds and correct transfer of accounts of QRC with inspection fees collected since 1999, correct expenditure figures and tax liabilities from the Reap before issuing clearance certificate.
Sources in Reap claimed that the QRC under the ministry would provide opportunities to the vested interests in the ministry and TDAP to demand kickbacks for getting the quality certificates. Besides, genuine exporters would also face delays in trade activities due to the cumbersome documentation and filing system in government offices.
It was Reap which pushed the country”s exports from $400 million to over $2 billion since the association started controlling the QRC. Being private organisation, the association was strictly monitoring the quality of rice for exports. The counter parts of the organisation were also praising the role of Reap for maintaining standards and quality of the country”s rice, they claimed.
However, in a statement, officials of Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (Unisame) said it was very important to reconcile the accounts of the QRC from 1999 till date and secure the documents of property purchased with QRC funds before relieving the former management. It invited the attention of the Auditor General of Pakistan to have the accounts checked.
The collection of inspection fees by a body not qualified to inspect the rice consignments shipped to global destinations nor collect fees in this manner is beyond comprehension and in fact a mockery of the system of inspection, nevertheless due to patronage of the successive governments and the obstinacy of the ministers who were misguided by big exporters who wanted to control the rice business. They let the body exist despite court rulings and strong objections from Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority (PSQCA).
Unisame urged the MoC to intervene and resolve the dispute between the TDAP and the Reap regarding the issue of collection of fees of rice inspection by the QRC as both organisations were issuing contrary notices. The TDAP has issued an order demanding fees to be paid by pay order/demand draft or cheque in favour of QRC and simultaneously Reap has issued a circular to its members instructing them to issue cheques favouring Reap till such time a joint account is opened for collection of rice inspection fees.
The Union demanded dissolution of the QRC as it is serving no practical purpose and has become an impediment in the way of rice exports considering the fact it was not eligible for pre-shipment inspection (PSI). The union had challenged its formation since its inception due to its shortcomings, drawbacks and defective structure.