The Express Tribune
Published Date: Feb 12, 2020
Export Development Fund in revival phase
ISLAMABAD: Experts have termed the Export Development Fund (EDF) a huge untapped opportunity for businesses which can help boost exports of Pakistan.
They said this while speaking at the “Public Private Dialogue Forum (PPDF) Roundtable Meeting to Discuss Export Development Fund: Prospects for the Private Sector”, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI).
They held the view that the EDF would help boost exports significantly and improve the overall export competitiveness of the country if reforms measures were taken in consultation with all stakeholders coupled with an effective monitoring mechanism for project proposals.
EDF Executive Director Syed Abbas Mehdi stressed that since its establishment in 1991, the fund had been working to remove the bottlenecks faced by exporters and producers of export-oriented goods and services in a bid to increase the performance of the export sector. “The fund is currently in its revival phase,” he said.
Export Development Fund springs into action
Previously, the fund only extended financial support on the proposals and initiatives of exporters to promote exports and there was no mechanism for the monitoring and impact assessment of the project proposals, he pointed out. “In a bid to reform the fund, the EDF established a secretariat last year to set the strategic direction of the entity.”
He urged the business community and exporters to provide suggestions, input and proposals for reforming the fund. He also requested the exporters to submit quality proposals and gain maximum benefit from the fund. EDF Board Secretary and Ministry of Commerce Joint Secretary Maria Kazi regretted that Pakistan’s private sector and exporters lacked innovation and focused less on research and development.
“EDF never received any proposal which was innovative in nature and catered to the needs and demands of the international market,” she said.
She strongly urged the private sector to draft proposals keeping in view the fourth industrial revolution and innovation in the technological arena. “In order to be competitive and to gain an edge in international markets, our exporters need to be smarter and innovative,” she added.
She was of the view that there was little awareness of the EDF among exporters while the fund also had little capacity to reach out to potential exporters. SDPI Joint Executive Director Dr Vaqar Ahmed emphasised that to reform the EDF and its various processes, it was important to select board members from the private sector on a competitive basis.
Export Development Fund: Let it go
“Policy think tanks can be encouraged to apply directly which, in turn, can help bridge capacity gaps in business associations,” he said.
He added that the Ministry of Commerce should help the EDF in augmenting the internal human resource capacities, which could help the EDF perform better impact evaluation of its work and also introduce a monitoring and evaluation system to track progress. Any barriers to the smooth flow of funds to select beneficiaries may be evaluated by the Ministry of Finance and Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), he suggested.
“It will be ideal if EDF money is dedicated to creating new and innovative products or bringing sophistication to existing products,” he said and urged the private sector to recommend how the EDF could help implement the forthcoming strategic policy framework.