KARACHI - The Union of Small and Medium Enterprises (Unisame) urged the government before setting up Pakistan Rice Board (PRB) as suggested by the vested interest must first examine the pros and cons and question those suggesting it as to the injury caused to the rice industry by the Quality Review Committee (QRC) set up by the government on their recommendations and supported by them.

The QRC eliminated the SME rice exporters and those adding value to the grains. Unisame was against the QRC from day one and time and again requested the authorities to remove this committee which was used as an instrument to eliminate the SME rice exporters.

President Unisame Zulfikar Thaver said ever since they have lost control of QRC they are trying to find ways and means to regain control in a different form and Mincom must not let them have another government sponsored tool for their vested interest like they did with QRC.

Fortunately Mincom finally comprehended the futility of QRC and decided to disband it but after the damage was done. Unisame kept informing Mincom about its negative role and is on record. Thaver said the SME rice exporters even filed petitions and law suits against this defective body.

Even if the government decides to form the PRB it must include experts from the growers, millers, processors and exporters to avoid conflict of interest but it is very important that the government must first study the role and function of the PRB as it would simply duplicate the functions of Mincom & Minfal and will entail huge expenditure in maintaining it when the matter of rice cultivation to its final exports are in the domain of the ministries of agriculture and commerce. Only thing which is needed is co-ordination between the two. If co-ordination is achieved and integrated efforts are made a positive policy could be made for the betterment of the rice industry which is on the verge of collapse.

The PRB will be another institution not worth its name because it entails policy making which is the function of the government through the Minfal and Mincom based on the recommendations of the Rice Commissioner in the Minfal, the Rice Research Institute and the stakeholders.