KARACHI, Jan 3: Business and industry leaders have shown mixed reaction on Trade Organisations Ordinance (TOO) 2006. Some feel that it will result in over-regulation of trade, while others believe it will help to eliminate fake and dormant trade bodies, therefore, it is a step in the right direction.
They, however, said that the real picture would only emerge when rules and regulations are framed for the TOO 2006, promulgated by President General Pervez Musharraf on last Saturday, thereby, revoking all the licences granted to trade bodies under TOO 1961.
Tariq Sayeed, a former FPCCI president said that under the new ordinance the number of trade bodies will be reduced drastically as the restriction of having over 350 members will eliminate a very large number of chambers, particularly belonging to small cities and regions.
He said that when there were no such regulations for bodies belonging to professionals such as lawyers, doctors, engineers and accountants and for that matter even political parties then as to why the government wants to over-regulate the trade bodies at such a time when the world was moving towards free market economy and liberalisation.
Mr Sayeed said under TOO 1961, the Director Trade Organisation (DTO) had powers of a Station House Officer (SHO), but the director general Trade Organisation (DGTO) under TOO 2006 will even have sweeping powers.
He further said that in most countries of the world there was no restriction on the number of members or trade bodies and the entire system revolves around the survival of the fittest.
He citied that in Hong Kong there were 40 chambers and in a city like Mumbai there are 50 chambers. In Japan there are 528 chambers and they have been major cause of development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
While appreciating the decision to allow women entrepreneurs to set up their trade bodies, he said they would first open their chambers at provincial level, including Azad Kashmir. He also welcomed the condition to ask all trade bodies to get the registration afresh within a period of three months.However, he accused the government for not incorporating the actual recommendations made by the committee headed by Justice (rtd) Saleem Akhtar in the final draft of the TOO 2006, and claimed it was totally different from what was originally conceived.
He said that the FPCCI president, who was member of this committee, was not taken into confidence while finalising the draft of the ordinance.
He further said that there was no reason to promulgate ordinance when the National Assembly session was to be called in a week.
Zubair Motiwala, who heads the committee of Businessmen Forum for FPCCI, appreciated the ordinance and said it was a move in the right direction. However, he was quick to say that things will only emerge when rules and regulations are made. He said that under the new ordinance all fake and dormant trade bodies would be eliminated and will augur an era of fair and free election in trade bodies throughout the country.
He hoped that the apex body of trade and industry – FPCCI – will now become in a position to truly contribute at macro-level of the country’s economy, which is being done the world over. Mr Motiwala said this would allow the FPCCI to function on national and global levels, which is the need of the hour in line with `knowledge based economies,’ of the world.
S M Muneer, patron of Businessmen Panel and a former FPCCI president said that the new ordinance had a lot many lacunae and the director general Trade Organisation has been given sweeping powers. He suggested that the regulatory authority should have been given to the apex body to ensure little or no interference from the government.
Mr Muneer said that the world over the apex body is given the role of a regulator of regional and other trade bodies and said that he had a telephonic conversation with the prime minister on the issue. He said the prime minister was asked to allow two-year term for the top slot of the FPCCI as the apex body is involved in budget making.
He said that for any new president of the FPCCI six months were required for adjustment and the next six months remain insufficient to deal with budget matters related to entire private sector and the national economy.