ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) has for the first time come forward to formulate standards for cars being manufactured in the country.
However, stakeholders fear that the move could create hindrances in the manufacture of auto parts.
The issue that there were no standards in the country for cars assembled as well as parts manufactured was pointed out by the Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP) in a recent report.
Industry insiders fear, however, that more bureaucratic hurdles will be created
It was suggested that the government establish a national standards/safety authority for the auto sector; now, MoST has directed the Pakistan Standards and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) to take the lead and formulate standards for auto vehicles too.
The CCP had pointed out: “Realistically, they have no standards to meet or tests to pass,” adding that “car recalls for technical issues are purely at the discretion of the companies and there is no authority for consumers to go to if they are sold sub-standard products.”
MoST has written to the PSQCA pointing towards the issues highlighted by the CCP, emphasising that there is a need to bring about legal and regulatory changes to establish a separate, independent and empowered vehicle standards and safety authority at the national level to deal with technical and consumer aspects in the automobile sector.
The ministry has stated that regular complaints are received against cars assembled in the country and referred to the report by the CCP in its letter that the lack of any framework was one of the major reasons automobile manufacturers feel no pressure to improve standards.
Currently, the PSQCA has over 100 items on the compulsory list, including three-wheeler auto rickshaws, motorcycles, and tractor parts, that have been put under its domain this year.
An official of the PSQCA said that the authority has testing laboratories in Lahore and Karachi for motorcycles and auto rickshaws, while the establishment of facilities for tractors is under way.
To formulate standards for cars, a meeting was recently scheduled between auto-part manufacturers and the Minister for Science and Technology Senator Azam Swati in Islamabad.
However, it was rescheduled due to Mr Swati engagements.
On the other hand, auto-part manufacturers maintain that formulating standards for cars and parts was technically difficult but the implementation of these standards was a serious issue.
“There were too many authorities in the country. For example, the Engineering Development Board is under the Ministry of Industries and Production that regulates the sector and the PSQCA is under MoST,” said Amir Allahwalla, former president of the Pakistan Association of Automotive Parts & Accessories Manufacturers.
He explained that currently, all car assemblers in Pakistan were reputable international brands and they have standards that are recognised internationally.
“All the parts that we manufacture in Pakistan are tested either here or forwarded to testing labs, mainly in Japan,” said Mr Allahwalla, adding: “If there were quality labs in the country we would get certification from here — but if conditions remain the same, that certifications are obtained from abroad, then the formulation of standards will only add another bureaucratic hurdle to the sector.”
However, an official of the PSQCA said that the government plans to devise a policy to encourage the establishment of testing labs in the private sector and not in the public sector.
Published in Dawn, November 25th, 2018