KARACHI: In a significant move aimed at ensuring transparency and adherence to the Trade Organization Act (TOA) and Memorandum of Articles of Association (M&AOA), the office of the Directorate General of Trade Organization (DGTO) has issued a notice to the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI). The notice, marked as letter No 17(31)/2098-TOs-IV and dated 28–08-23, highlights substantial irregularities that have been observed under the current leadership of FPCCI.

The DGTO has specifically brought to light concerns regarding potential violations of the TOA and M&AOA, with the present president and office bearers allegedly being involved in activities that contravene these regulatory frameworks. The letter directs the Secretary General of FPCCI to adhere to the principles outlined in sub-section (e) of section 2 of TOA and MAOA, emphasizing that the management and conduct of FPCCI affairs should be the responsibility of the Executive Committee, in line with established protocols.

However, the DGTO’s office has reportedly discovered that the president of FPCCI has been conducting business without proper consultation with the Executive Committee, a practice deemed both illegal and punishable under clause (h), sub-section 3 of section 14 of TOA 2023.

To address these concerns and establish transparency, the Director General has directed the Secretary General of FPCCI to provide detailed information spanning several aspects. This includes the formation of committees and sub-committees, financial expenditures exceeding Pak Rs 1,00,000, employee hiring practices, foreign visits funded by FPCCI, donations and contributions, signed MoUs and agreements, issued by-laws or regulations, and any other decisions not explicitly mentioned in the notice.

The DGTO emphasizes that the requested information should be presented in a matrix format, covering the period from 1st January 2022 to 1st September 2023. This matrix should also include dates of approval by the Executive Committee, supported by minutes and signed attendance records.

Furthermore, the DGTO has raised concerns over the manner in which the current President of FPCCI was elected, asserting that the election process was controversial. Allegations have surfaced that due to this disputed election, the President has been operating the affairs of FPCCI unilaterally, sidelining the role of the Executive Committee. The Secretary General of FPCCI has been given until 4th September 2023 to provide a response.

The trade bodies of Pakistan have expressed their appreciation for the DGTO’s actions against the alleged irregularities in FPCCI. These actions are particularly relevant in light of recent amendments to the TOA, which were introduced by the National Assembly through a bill. The alleged mismanagement of FPCCI funds by the current office bearers, including appointments of relatives and nepotism, has also come under scrutiny.

The DGTO’s proactive stance highlights the importance of maintaining transparency, accountability, and adherence to regulatory protocols within trade organizations. As this situation unfolds, it serves as a reminder of the need for ethical conduct and responsible governance in such entities.