LAHORE-Director General Transit Trade Dr Sarfraz Ahmad has that infrastructure development CESS should be charged at federal level as interprovincial trade belongs to the federal government. He was speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry on Friday. LCCI Vice President Mian Zahid Jawaid Ahmad presided over the meeting while Deputy Director, Ministry of Communication Shahbaz Latif and Convener LCCI Standing Committee on National Trade & Transport Facilitation Muhammad Anwar also spoke on the occasion.

DG Transit Trade, Customs Department, Karachi said that federal government is responsible for development of infrastructure such as Motorways, Highways and Railways therefore infrastructure related taxes should be levied at federal level. He said that Pakistan, as an important logistics hub for transit trade will undoubtedly bring prosperity to South Asia along the trade routes and beyond, as nothing opens up an area to economic development better than good transportation networks with good transit rules and an ability to transport goods and people effectively. The Establishment of Directorate General of Transit Trade serves to facilitate bilateral trade between Pakistan and its neighbouring land-locked countries, thus converting Pakistan into a “land bridge” between South Asia and Central Asia. Transit through Pakistan is currently the only viable option for Afghanistan, and both countries have signed Afghan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA).

Mian Zahid Jawaid Ahmad said that LCCI firmly supports the government’s vision of facilitating transit trade of the landlocked neighboring countries. He said that arrangements should not be misused and should in no way hamper the growth of local industry. He said that misuse of Afghan Transit Trade through smuggling, under- invoicing and other means still remains a big issue which is hampering competitiveness. This misuse can only be minimized through extensive use of technology. He said that Pakistan still lags behind in terms of swift handling of transit containers. The excessive number of physical inspections on the containers results in delays and prompts the importers and exporters to use other routes for trade.

There is a need to reduce the number of physical inspections of containers through greater infusion of technology. This will result in swift clearing of consignments and make Pakistan competitive. He said that China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) also provides a great avenue for enhancing transit trade through utilizing geo-strategic location. It is worth mentioning that China, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan are in an agreement called Quadrilateral Agreement on Traffic in Transit [QATT] which aims to promote mercantile traffic in transit amongst these countries. Shahbaz Latif said that responsibility of Ministry of Communication is to ensure trafficable infrastructure.

He said that the Ministry is taking all measures to improve the infrastructure. He said that legal agreement is done with Turkey and permits are also exchanged in this regard. But due to some unknown reasons, the agreement is not fully availed. There are no hurdles or impediments on the part of the Ministry.