The law minister has raised question over the inspection committee constituted to register fish processing plants to boost exports of fisheries.

The government had formed the inspection committee for the registration of fish processing plants in a bid to improve exports of fish and fishery products.

The inspection committee comprised Marine Fisheries Department Karachi director general, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) Agro & Food Division director and Pakistan Fisheries Exporters Association chairman.

The Maritime Affairs Division moved a summary to the cabinet in a meeting held last week, seeking approval for constitution of the inspection committee.

During discussion, however, the minister for law and justice pointed out that registration was not part of the mandate of the inspection committee, as wrongly reflected in Para 5 of the summary.

It was advised that the summary may be rectified in light of functions of the inspection committee mentioned in Clause 5(2) of the Pakistan Fish and Quality Control Act 1997. The Maritime Affairs Division told the cabinet that as per Rules of Business 1973, as amended from time to time, and the Constitution of Pakistan, Fourth Schedule-Federal Legislative List Part-I, Clause 36, fish and fishing beyond territorial waters was allocated to the Ministry of Ports and Shipping (now Ministry of Maritime Affairs).

The Constitution of Pakistan, Fourth Schedule-Federal Legislative List Part-I, Clause 27 delineates, “Import and export across customs frontiers as deemed by the federal government, inter-provincial trade and commerce, trade and commerce with foreign countries, standard of quality of goods to be exported out of Pakistan.”

Accordingly, the federal government is authorised to regulate export of fish and fishery products through the Marine Fisheries Department, Karachi, which is the executive department under the Ministry of Maritime Affairs.

The Marine Fisheries Department regulates export of fish and fishery products through the Pakistan Fish Inspection and Quality Control Act 1997 and Pakistan Fish Inspection and Quality Control Rules 1998.

As per Clause 5(1) of the Pakistan Fish Inspection and Quality Control Act 1997, “The federal government shall constitute an inspection committee consisting of one representative each of the Export Promotion Bureau, the Marine Fisheries Department and a broad-based trade association of fish processing plants.”

It was highlighted that Section 5 of the Pakistan Fish Inspection and Quality Control Act 1997, vide Ordinance No XI of 1998, was amended and words “and a broad-based trade association of fish processing plants” at the end, were omitted. However, the said amendment to the Act could not be carried out within the stipulated time, hence, the ordinance stood repealed.

In view of the above, the Maritime Affairs Division sought approval of the cabinet for setting up the inspection committee for registration of fish processing plants as per Clause 5(1) of the Pakistan Fish and Quality Control Act 1997. The cabinet considered the summary titled “Constitution of Inspection Committee for the Registration of Fish Processing Plants” submitted by the Maritime Affairs Division, and approved the proposal.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 13th, 2021.

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