PCSIR declares betel nut consignment unfit for consumption

KARACHI: The Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) has rejected a consignment of betel nut to be fit for consumption, as the laboratory found presence of Aflatoxins in the commodity, much more than the tolerable levels.
PCSIR report raises several questions as the goods were legally imported by air from Sri Lanka, and SGS Lanka Pvt Ltd Laboratory had cleared the goods to be fit for consumption, as only traces of Aflatoxins had been found in the consignment.
Moreover, the goods freshly picked from the fields were airlifted from Sri Lanka imported by M/s Pak Indo Trade Link, and yet PCSIR manipulated the test results rejecting the goods.
A betel nut importer Muhammad Rizwan said the bureaucracy was intentionally discouraging the legitimate import of betel nut and in fact promoting its smuggling, so that certain officers could get their cut.
Rizwan said due to the restrictions and stringent certifications, betel nut’s legal imported had stopped, and the commodity was being smuggled on a large scale. Discontinuation of its legal import had increased the prices of betel nut many a fold in the local market, thus offering thick margins for the smugglers.
It may be mentioned here that an investment of Rs5.0 million returns a profit of Rs20 million in this smuggling business.
Rizwan said a number of traders, who were importing different things, had now indulged in betel nut smuggling, and the officers were happy with this situation as it was making them a lot of money.
An importer said the PCSIR report rejecting the legally imported consignment would largely discourage legitimate traders, and the smuggling would continue depriving national exchequer of its revenue.

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