Environmental Protection Department (EPD) Punjab has failed in constituting a permanent directorate of Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) to implement seven international conventions related to environment to retain the status of Generalised System of Preferences plus (GSP Plus), Pakistan Today has learnt.
European Union (EU) granted GSP Plus status to Pakistan in January 2014 for duty free access to Pakistani products in the European markets for four years. GSP Plus status allowed 20 per cent of Pakistani exports in the EU markets at zero tariff and 70 per cent at preferential rates during this four year period till 2017.
GSP Plus is a trade preference scheme described as a special incentive arrangement for sustainable development and good governance. So far EU has granted this status to 13 developing countries around the world.
While granting this status in December 2013, it was made conditional to maintain ratification and effective implementation of the 27 major international conventions regarding human rights, civil, political rights, labour rights and environment. Among these 27 conventions, seven were directly related to environment.
An official in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Punjab, told this scribe that seven out of 27 conventions are directly related to environmental issues. However, after the passing of the 18th amendment, the provinces are responsible for coping with environmental issues in their provinces.
He said that former EPD secretary Anjum Rasheed had moved a summary to the Punjab Chief Minister (CM) for the establishment of the MEAs directorate for implantation of the international conventions. He said the CM had given approval for the summary, but still, no directorate had been created in the EPA.
“EU has started reviewing Pakistan’s exports as well as its implementation of the conventions which it had to adopt,” the source said, adding the EU may take this as a serious violation which could jeopardise the GSP Plus status.
The seven environmental conventions include Montreal Protocol on Ozone Layer Depleting Substances (ODS) 1989, Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movement of Hazardous waste 1992, Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 1992, United Nations Framework Conventions on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 1994, Cartagena Protocol on Bio Safety to the CBD 2001, Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) 2001 and Kyoto Protocol to UNFCCC 1997.
Pakistan has ratified all these international conventions in 1992, 1994, 1994, 1997, 2009, 2008 and 2005 respectively.
EPA Directore General (DG) Dr Javed Iqbal while talking to Pakistan Today said that a few problems had occurred while establishing the MEAs directorate which had now been resolved. He said the process for setting up the new directorate is in final stages. Answering a question, Dr Javed said that all seven international conventions are being fully implemented and their GSP Plus Monitoring Card is also being updated from time to time by the EPA.
“After the establishment of the proper directorate the international conventions will be implemented in a more effective manner,” he added.
Monitoring Lab & Implementation (ML&I) Director Tauqee Qureshi, while talking to Pakistan Today, blamed the former EPD secretary and EPA DG for the delay in making the MEAs directorate functional. He said a summary has been forwarded to the Finance department after removing objections.
Qureshi said the EPA will recruit 25 experts for MEAs directorate on market salaries. He said a non-development budget of around Rs 20 million would be required for the purpose.
He further said that these experts would have expertise in the areas of management of hazardous substances, regulation of living modified organisms and climate change management.