Exporters irked by 800% hike in phyto-certificate fee

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Exporters have denounced the Ministry for National Food Security and Research for hiking the fee of export certificate for fruits and vegetables by 800% and have termed it an additional hurdle to increase in exports from Pakistan.


The ministry has increased the fee for phyto-certificate, which is required for export of fruits and vegetables from the country.


Owing to the increase, exporters were paying Rs2,500 per item per container for the issuance of phyto-certificate against Rs300 earlier, said All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association (PFVA) Patron-in-Chief Waheed Ahmed.


“This sudden exorbitant increase in the fee without any prior consultation with the main stakeholders is unbearable for the industry,” he said. “The fee hike of Rs2,200 will multiply the cost of export consignments exponentially, which will make it very difficult for exporters to compete in the international market.”


While the government was striving to enhance exports of fruits and vegetables, the fee increase indicated serious discrepancies in its desire and action for meeting the target, he said.


Ahmed pointed out that the disproportionate increase in the fee would seriously hit exports sent via air.


Drawing comparison with other countries, he stated that India had a high fee for phyto-certificate as it was $1.36 or Rs228, while it cost $0.87 or Rs140 in Sri Lanka and $0.24 or Rs40 in Bangladesh.


“The amount of Rs300 being charged by Pakistan earlier was already the highest and now it has been hiked further to Rs2,500,” he lamented.


“On top of that, export consignments having multiple containers require a separate phyto-certificate for each container so one can well imagine the increase in the cost of export shipments.”


After the Covid-19 outbreak around the world, the export of fruits and vegetables by air was already encountering difficulties given the exorbitant increase in the cost of air freight.


“The fee increase at such a time has added fuel to the fire and sparked fears of a complete discontinuation of export of fruits and vegetables through the air route.”


He added that the present cost of phyto-certificate was far higher than the profit earned on an item. Ahmed highlighted that fruit and vegetable exporters along with the federal government and the Ministry of Commerce had jointly strived to enhance exports of edible goods.


“It was due to these efforts that the country recorded a rise in exports, which fetched $730 million despite closure of international markets and logistic challenges in Pakistan,” he said. “All efforts were made to ensure consistency in exports this year.”


He appealed to the Ministry of National Food Security and Research to re-consider the abnormal increase in the phyto-certificate fee by keeping the national and international situation in view. The fee should be brought down to a reasonable level compared to other regional countries, he stressed.