Pakistan Single Window Programme to cut cost of doing business: official
LAHORE: Pakistan Single Window Programme (PSWP) project director Muhammad Imran Khan Mohmmand has expressed the hope that the programme would reduce the cost of doing business and minimise the interface between the taxpayers and collectors.
Addressing a workshop on PSWP, organised by the All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (Aptma) Northern Zone for its members at its Lahore office on Wednesday, Mohmmand said that the facility has been designed to reduce time, cost, and complexity to ensure ease of business, besides supporting the government agencies in adopting an integrated risk management approach for efficient enforcement of control on cross-border trade.
Under the PSWP, he said, an ICT-based port community system will also be established and all the stakeholders, including FIA, Customs, terminal operators, ports, shipping lines, banks and other relevant entities will be integrated for efficient cargo management at seaports, airports, dry ports, and land border crossings.
The project will unlock the country’s potential in becoming a hub for regional, as well as international trade and transit, he said, adding that the programme is a facility that allows parties involved in trade and transport in Pakistan to lodge standardised information and documents at a single registration point.
This eliminates hidden costs and removes inefficiencies in the governance of international trade, including logistics, he added.
Mohmmand said that over 75 regulatory departments, including Customs, banks, port authorities, shipping companies, brokers, etc, will be fully integrated through the ICT-based system, providing a single point of entry to facilitate trade across borders with minimal need for any physical contact.
It would connect the Web-based One Customs (WeBOC) system with the Customs, banking channels and other institutions to increase efficiency and reduce the time taken for processing in various departments, he said.
“This will enhance [the] ease of doing business in Pakistan and, as a result, will improve the country’s image and attract foreign direct investment. Pakistan has an important geostrategic location and it can become a regional trade hub, provided that the difficulties in the current system to manage international trade are overcome,” he added.
Aptma chairman Abdul Rahim Nasir termed it an ideal situation and said the implementation of the National Single Window System is also a commitment under the Trade Facilitation Agreement of the World Trade Organization.
Nasir said that 2.4 million containers were traded for either imports or exports last year. Licences, permits and other documents issued for imports or exports not only took time but also cost money, which was paid by businessmen.
An import container in Pakistan bears a cost of $417 and takes 216 hours in the regulation process. In comparison, India incurs a cost of only $366 and takes 85 hours to clear the same container, while South Korea clears the container in only seven working hours and bears a cost of $342, he added.
He also said it costs $406 and takes 113 hours when a container is exported from Pakistan in comparison to $64 and 207 hours in India and $196 and 14 hours in South Korea.
“This cost is so high regionally and internationally that it hamper our trade with other countries,” he said.
Kamran Arshad presented a vote of thanks and expressed the hope that such interactions between the authority and the association would continue in the future, as well.
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