KARACHI: The Senate Standing Committee on Maritime Affairs has asked for a stringent policy to discourage smuggling or illegal trade practices in the cover of Afghan Transit Trade (ATT) and called for measures to promote transit trade, particularly, with Central Asian states.

The fresh proposals and directives came at its meeting which met with its chairperson Senator Rubina Khalid in the chair and attended by Senators Nuzhat Sadiq, Moula Bux Chandio, Dost Muhammad Khan and Danesh Kumar besides Karachi Port Trust chairman Muhammad Tariq Huda and officers of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and KPT.

It also directed the KPT to further improve its trade facilitation policy and explore new avenues of transit trade with landlocked countries for maximisation of the port’s business.

“Moreover, a stringent policy must be framed as well to discourage smuggling or illegal trade practices in the cover of ATT, the committee members urged,” said a statement issued after the meeting.

“Ms Rubina appreciated plans for a dedicated railway freight corridor from KPT to Pipri area to lessen the burden on the road and said that it would not only fast-track the container clearance operations at the port but also help ease the burden of heavy traffic on roads of the metropolis which results into traffic congestion and damages to roads.”

The committee asked the KPT chairman to submit comprehensive proposals for further processing of the plans of the port so that its functioning could be streamlined and necessary amendments could be made to the rules of business of the KPT.

Port pollution is another serious issue that should be dealt with efficiently on a priority basis and industrial units disposing of their sewerage into the sea must be bound for installation of effluent or treatment plants, the committee maintained.

Senator Chandio noted that Karachi’s coastline lacked greenery and a clean environment and said that all the stakeholders should work together to make the beaches cleaner and greener.

The committee members suggested giving representation to Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry in the KPT’s Board of Trustees (BoT) to ensure wider participation of the business community from all around the country.

Senator Kumar suggested that the Rice Association of Pakistan should also be given representation in the BoT as rice has become one of the top export commodities of the country. The KPT chief briefed the committee that trade cargo was mostly handled at KPT as it facilitates almost 50 per cent of the trade cargo while 25pc of the total tax revenue — Rs.1.5 trillion out of total tax revenue of Rs6tr — was contributed through KPT.

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2022

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