KARACHI: The Federal government has announced to release Rs 20 billion of Export Development Fund to help the exporters explore new markets for Pakistan’s non-traditional items. A formal announcement to this effect was made by Finance Minister Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh during his crucial interaction with business community in a meeting with the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) at Federation House here the other day.The FPCCI leadership has taken the government assurance in a good spirit and expressed hope that the new approach at the decision-making level would help in removing bottlenecks in release of Rs 20 billion from Export Development Fund.However, the business community also wants to make sure that the Export Development Fund is not misused or misappropriated. In their views, Export Development Fund is meant for export-boosting initiatives, and it ought to be used for this very purpose. The FPCCI leadership is of the opinion that timely release and proper use of Export Development Fund could ensure more exports, besides completing a number of projects undertaken by FPCCI and other trade bodies for providing the business community required infrastructure.They referred to Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s secretariat building in Islamabad. The government was to release Rs 236.50 million for the construction of Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry secretariat, and Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry was to match equal funds for completion of the building. However, it did not happen. That prompted India to demand shifting of Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry to New Delhi.Pakistani office-bearers of Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry, like former president Tariq Sayeed and vice president Iftikhar Ali Malik ,moved quickly to block Indian move of convincing other Saarc countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka for supporting shifting of Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s head office.
FPCCI ruling group leadership has been demanding release of funds from the government at every forum. FPCCI former president Iftikhar Ali Malik said Tariq Sayeed and he himself raised the issue of delay in funds from Export Development Fund for a number of key projects, including Saarc Chamber headquarters building to be built in Islamabad. He said that Saarc Chamber Secretariat was of great significance for Pakistan, and government assurance to release fund amounting to Rs 236.6 million would help the committee to start work on this project early. He said that there was great need of proper use of Export Development Fund to boost exports of non-traditional items to new international markets. The FPCCI leadership including president senator Ghulam Ali, Tariq Sayeed , Iftikhar Ali Malik, advisor Sindh government Ikhtiar Baig, Munir, A Hameed Chada, all seven vice chairmen gave different proposals during Dr Abdul Hafeez Shaikh’s visit to FPCCI head office in Karachi – Brecorder