Islamabad, January 01, 2013 (PPI-OT): Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has directed the Chairman Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to keep open the Custom Facilitation Posts at Pak-Afghan border on all seven days of the week including Sundays to facilitate transportation of goods between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
This direction was given by the Prime Minister when a delegation of Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI) called on him at the Prime Minister’s House this afternoon.
The Prime Minister also directed the Ministry of Interior to depute its personnel to ensure that the posts are fully functional at Pak-Afghan border to facilitate passage of goods across the border.
The Prime Minister was told that this step would increase bilateral trade between the two countries by 12 to 13% and also reduce the cost of freight as the same transport would now be able to apply for another day.
The Prime Minister also directed the Ministry of Interior to exempt Afghanistan businessmen travelling to Pakistan on valid visa from the provision of Police inquiry.
The Prime Minister said that Pakistan and Afghanistan are brotherly and neighbourly countries which are closely bonded in religion, culture and history. He said “Pakistan and Afghanistan are important and indispensable for each other”.
The Prime Minister praised (PACJCCI) for bringing the business persons of both the countries together and using its good offices for resolving issues for better trade relations between the two countries.
The importance given to Afghanistan by his government can be measured from the fact that he paid his first official visit to Afghanistan, said the Prime Minister. “Kabul is the most important capital for Pakistan”, said the Prime Minister.
Trade, the Prime Minister said has an important role in fostering relations between the two countries. The Prime Minister expressed the hope that trade between the two countries would further enhance the existing relations between the two countries.
In response to a complaint by Afghan businesspersons that 3000 Afghan containers were stuck up at the Karachi seaport, the Prime Minister expressed concern over their detention and directed Chairman, Federal Board of Revenue to sit with the Afghan side and release the containers within ten days. He also directed the FBR to devise a fool proof mechanism to ensure that containers are cleared in future promptly so that genuine trade was not affected.
The Prime Minister assured the Afghan businessmen that the government would extend them all possible facilities. He, however, urged both Pakistanis and Afghans businesspersons to discourage smuggling, so that it benefits business.
The Prime Minister also appreciated the proposal of setting up special economic zone on Pakistan’s side near the Afghan border for manufacture of goods and their export to Afghanistan. Also, he assured the delegation to improve the condition of Quetta-Chaman Road.
The Prime Minister urged private sector of both the countries to prepare a proposal for establishing a Dry Port as well as running train services for transportation of goods between the two countries.
Earlier, Mr Muhammad Zubair Motiwala, Mr Khan Jan Alokozai, President and Co-President of PAJCCI briefed the Prime Minister about the organization as well as the issues and problems being faced by businesspersons of both the countries.
Mr Zubair Motiwala briefed the Prime Minister about the establishment of PAJCCI. He said it is a historical milestone as it has opened up doors for other regional countries to join this forum. Turkey has shown interest in engaging itself with PAJCCI in a tri-lateral arrangement and Tajikistan is also interested in a similar arranged, he added.
Mr Motiwala apprised the Prime Minister that the present volume of trade between the two countries was nearly $ 2.5 billion which had even more potential. He also drew the attention of the Prime Minister for rationalization of tariff to reduce smuggling, constitution of a mechanism for mediation of disputes, inclusion of representative of PAJCCI in bilateral talks, establishment of special economic zone at Pak-Afghan border and improvement in the condition of Quetta-Chaman Road.
Mr Khan Jan Alokozai, Co-President PAJCCI presented the traditional “CHAPPAN” to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.
Those who attended the meting include Minister of State for Commerce Mr Abbas Khan Afridi, Secretaries Commerce and Interior, Chairman FBR and senior officials.
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