MoIP and MoST fight for control of local automotive industry standards
ISLAMABAD: The Ministry of Industries and Production (MoIP) sidelined the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) by instructing the Engineering Development Board (EDB) to develop standards for locally manufactured vehicles, which has already been done by the Pakistan Standard and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA) under the MoST.
According to the details, this was done through the new auto policy (2021-26) recently approved by the federal cabinet, although the PSQCA, a branch of the MoST, developed the same last year.
Sources said the MoIP “secretly” got Cabinet to approve the statement: slip the clause into the auto industry development and export policy (AIDEP 2021-26) without anyone knowing.
When contacted, MoST secretary Dr Akhtar Nazir was not made aware of the development. He said that since the ministry has already opposed giving the quality control mandate to EDB, the MoIP should not have included the same in the auto policy.
“We would address the issue in a relevant forum,” he said, adding that maintaining quality standards is the mandate of the PSQCA under the law.
It appears that MST Minister Senator Shibli Faraz ignored the document or did not notice the issue when auto policy was discussed in Cabinet.
Apparently the two departments would bicker over the issue, as EDB and local automakers were reluctant to accept the role of the PSQCA in maintaining quality standards.
The Ministry of Science and Technology believes that the PSQCA, being the only regulatory body in the country to maintain standards for locally produced products, should look into the quality issues of the automotive industry which continues to decline. operate without regulatory oversight despite customer criticism of poor quality vehicles.
The ministry seeks to ensure that domestically produced vehicles meet global standards as Pakistan has adopted international safety standards.
Pakistan has ratified the United Nations Treaty on “the Adoption of Harmonized Technical Regulations of Nations for Wheeled Vehicles, Equipment and Parts which may be fitted and / or used on wheeled vehicles and the conditions for reciprocal recognition of approvals. granted on the basis of these United Nations regulations, adopted in Geneva on March 20, 1958 ”. The agreement entered into force for Pakistan on April 24, 2020.
The new automotive policy states that vehicles that do not comply with preselected WP-29 regulations will not be manufactured or imported locally after June 30, 2022. However, manufacturers can get a full waiver up to a total of 24 months. ending June 30, 2024, of the EDB, if they show reasonable progress in compliance with UNECE regulations or encounter practical difficulties. “The MoIP, on the recommendation of the EDB, will grant a year of relaxation in the event of difficulty in compliance,” they said.
According to documents available from this scribe, the MoSt, through its objection to EDB’s role as a standards body, has made it clear that the policy conflicts with the functions of the PSQCA. He said that the EDB is not a regulatory authority and that the PSQCA is already notified as the authority for the implementation of regulations under the PSQCA-VI law of 1996.
The MoST, while referring to certain sections of auto policy, asked authorities to remove sections relating to the contradictory role of the EDB from policy, as the PSQCA is already a regulatory body in the country.
Interestingly, the PSQCA and EDB do not have the laboratory and other facilities needed to verify and approve the standards of locally produced vehicles. Both organizations have been criticized for corruption and irregularities. “EDB, playing the role of the B team of the automakers, has always opposed the role of PSQCA in maintaining the standard of vehicles,” a MOST official said in terms of anonymity. The official was surprised to learn of the approval of the policy without addressing the MoST reservation.