ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Commerce has yet to denotify the ban on the import of 33 classes/categories of goods despite a lapse of 10 days when the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet announced this decision.

The ECC decisions are normally endorsed in the Federal Cabinet meeting as a routine matter for legal coverage. The last cabinet meeting was held on Aug 4 chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif but the issue was not considered for approval. The ECC decided to withdraw the ban on these items on July 28.

An official source in the commerce ministry told Dawn that the cabinet has yet to endorse the decision of the ECC on the withdrawal of the ban on these items. The cabinet even did not reject the decision of the ECC, the official added.

Major trading partners, especially the United States, have raised serious concerns about the imposition of the ban given the fact that it disrupts supply chains to the domestic retail industry.

The US ambassador to Pakistan already held back-to-back meetings with Commerce Minister Naveed Qamar and Finance Minister Miftah Ismail to record his government’s concerns over the imposition of the ban.

On May 19, the coalition government imposed a ban on 33 categories of items in a plea to control the rising import bill.

The commerce ministry in the summary submitted to the ECC for withdrawal of the ban claimed that the overall imports of the banned items have shrunk by over 69pc from $399.4 million to $123.9m in two months. However, the ECC decided to lift the ban on imported goods except for complete built-up auto, mobile and home appliances units.

Further, all held-up consignments (except items that remain in the banned category), which arrived at the ports after July 1 may be cleared subject to payment of 25pc surcharge.

“We will issue notification for withdrawal of ban after receiving cabinet decision,” the commerce ministry official further said.

The ECC decision of July 28 did not mention any procedure to withdraw the ban on those items which are in use by exporters. This clearly shows that there is a complete lack of coordination between the commerce and finance ministry over banning the import of such items.

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2022

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