ISLAMABAD: The Senate Standing Committee on Commerce recommended the Ministry of Commerce to impose regulatory duty of 35% on the import of apples from Iran, in a bid to protect the farmers of Balochistan.
The committee made its recommendation following a request by the farmers, who pleaded the government to impose the duty. The issue was referred by the Senate to the concerned committee which was later raised in the house by Balochistan Senator Mir Kabir Ahmed Shahi.
Committee chairman Senator Shibli Faraz, after hearing the farmers and senators, recommended the ministry to impose a regulatory duty of at least 35% on the import.
Senators from Balochistan and representatives of farmers also pointed out that the locals were facing serious challenges due to drought and unchecked import and smuggling of apples, grapes, tomatoes, potatoes and onions.
“The farmers of Balochistan have been suffering for the last 10 years due to smuggling and the import of fruit from Iran,” said Mir Kabir. “The farmers need special attention as climate change has largely affected the province, where water scarcity has become a serious threat, compounded by the burgeoning power crisis,” he added.
The representatives of Balochistan growers pointed out that presently, there was no available space in cold storage houses in Islamabad and Lahore due to massive import of Iranian apples that increased by 200% through Taftan and Torkham (Afghanistan).
It was further disclosed that apples from Turkmenistan had also been reaching the Pakistan market via Iran. The farmer representatives suggested that Pakistan should follow a reciprocal policy as Iran has banned the import of Pakistani rice and kinnows.
“The commerce minister has held meetings with the Minister for National Food Security and Research and the Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan. The ambassador has suggested that Pakistan should tighten enforcement to curb smuggling,” said Ministry of Commerce Secretary Muhammad Shahzad Arbab.
Meanwhile, Customs Chief (Tariff) Iftikhar was of the view that the FBR could not control smuggling due to the socio economic situation of Balochistan. He said Iran had built roads along the 900km border but Pakistan has not established any infrastructure so far. “Smuggling from Afghanistan can also not be checked entirely due to the long porous border,” he said.
Source: The Express Tribune