ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday approved a new policy to allocate 20 per cent quota or almost 12 posts for overseas Pakistanis for posting as trade officers in Pakistan’s missions abroad to be tasked to promote export and foreign direct investment in approximately 40 countries.
The decision comes at a time when tenure of almost over 32 trade officers posted abroad during the previous government will come to an end by July 2019. In the year 2015, PML-N government has posted 51 trade officers abroad.
Currently, 16 posts fell vacant following the completion of tenure of officers posted earlier. As a result, the total officers to be posted abroad are almost 45 in the current year under the new policy approved by the premier.
The annual cost of these postings is estimated at approximately Rs2 billion.
20pc quota set aside for overseas Pakistanis
Last time, the policy for posting of trade officers was changed in 2013. The policy introduced some measures to ensure merit.
The commerce ministry was asked to prepare objective and quantifiable performance evaluation standards and key performance indicators for the trade officers at the earliest. The ministry was also asked to train these officers before postings, extend their contract on a yearly basis after a fair evaluation of the performance.
A senior officer told Dawn that the Commerce Division will improve the performance evaluation of trade officers abroad through international best practices. He said the division is currently evaluating through video conferencing. As a result of these measures almost seven trade officers were recalled owing to poor performance, the officer added.
Under the new policy, overseas Pakistanis will also go through a written test followed by an interview. The tests will be conducted by the LUMs or IBA in the Pakistani missions abroad, the officer said.
Secretary Commerce Mohammad Younus Dagha gave a detailed briefing to prime minister.
It may be recalled that the Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed Ministry of Commerce to revamp the entire system of appointing trade officers who are posted abroad to promote trade and commercial interests of the country.
An official statement issued after the meeting said the new policy focuses on transparent and merit-based selection of the trade officers inculcating market diversification, involvement of Pakistani diaspora, rationalising the expenditure, broad-based monitoring and performance evaluation and automation of the processes.
To effectively promote commercial interests of the country, especially in the emerging markets and various regions across the globe, trade clusters have been focused in the new policy to ensure optimum utilisation and maximum outreach of the trade officers.
The premier was informed that in order to ensure broad-based and real-time monitoring of the performance of the trade officers, the entire evaluation process has been made IT-based. Mr Dagha also briefed the prime minister about National Trade Data Analytics System (NTDAS) which is being developed by the ministry.
The NTDAS with its comprehensive database of trade statistics, exporters/importers directory, products and trade lead insight will help better evaluation and promotion of trade interests of the country.
Published in Dawn, March 6th, 2019