ISLAMABAD: The federal government on Thursday permitted export of textile masks in a bid to allow manufacturers to honour international orders. However, the ban on exports of N-95and surgical face masks — both falling in the list of personal protective equipment (PPE) — will remain.
The Ministry of National Health Services, which overseas imports and exports of medical goods and instruments sent a letter to Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) Chairwoman Nausheen Amjad to allow exports of cotton masks.
The decision was taken in a meeting of the National Command and Operation Centre (NCOC) of the National Coordination Committee on April 20. However, the government has yet to take a decision regarding export of sanitisers.
Last week, Adviser on Commerce Razak Dawood announced that government will also allow export of sanitisers and masks to earn foreign exchange for the country.
According to the national health ministry’s letter, the federal government has already imposed a ban on the exports of N-95 and surgical masks.
“Direction should be issued to concerned departments allowing the exports of cotton masks to avoid any difficulties faced by the exporters,” said the letter.
The letter was issued by the ministry to keep things clear. The Federal Investigation Agency is already probing the earlier the decision of the ministry for allowing exports of mask from the country as the Covid-19 pandemic made its way to Pakistan.
The exports of health-related products are subject to NOC of Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan.
Many countries have restricted the exports of all goods used in the prevention and treatment of Covid-19. However, in Pakistan the decisions to allow or ban exports of PPE have been changing since the last few weeks.
Currently, washable cloth masks used for anti-dust pollution purposes are not allowed to be exported as there is confusion in the SROs of banned items.
He said exporters of cotton masks should remain in contact with the FBR in case of any difficulty.
“The west is slowly opening up and orders are trickling in,” the adviser said.
“I’m appealing to our textile industry to take full advantage of these new opportunities to enter new segments and new geography. The federal government will extend support to exporters completely,” he added.
Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2020