The Senate Standing Committee on Defence Production in its meeting on Tuesday at Parliament was briefed in detail by the Ministry of Defence Production (MoDP) on proposed restructuring of the Defence Production Division. It was also briefed by Director General, Defence Export Promotion Organization (DEPO).
Chaired by Senator Lt. General Abdul Qayyum HI (M) Retd, the meeting was attended by Senator Nuzhat Sadiq, Senator Gul Bashra, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Senator Nauman Wazir Khattak, Senator Sarfaraz Ahmed Bugti, Senator Muhammad Akram, Senator Anwar Lal Dean, Senator Zeeshan Khanzada and senior officers of the Ministry of Defence Production along with all concerned.
Secretary Ministry of Defence Production apprised the Committee of government initiatives for restructuring of the MoDP. The recommendation was made by the Institutional Reforms Cell in July, 2019. The PM’s office provided guidelines in the Report on the Reorganization of the Federal Government containing a list of Executive Departments and Autonomous Bodies; in which DPE’s working under MoDP were included.
In sync with the vision of the Federal Government and mandate of optimal utilization of existing human and financial resources two new executive departments have been declared namely DEPO and DGRDE with a focus on marketing indigenous technology and develop partnerships with academia and the private sector. Cells related to policy/planning, public-private interface, legal advice and technical coordination shall be created within available human resource and budget. A policy Board on ship building has been functionalized after 11 years. Creation of a commercial company by HIT to reduce dependence on Defence Budget and a Think Tank to brainstorm innovative ideas are underway as well.
Chairman Committee, Senator Lt. General Abdul Qayyum HI (M) Retd emphasized the importance of research and development in this field and said this will pave the way for innovation. Funding and marketing efforts needs to be stepped up as well. The Ministry informed the Committee that currently it faces zero financial issues and a marketing professional to introduce indigenous technology beyond shores will be hired soon. The Committee stressed the need for consulting with Pakistani Diaspora leading similar technology hubs abroad for innovative ideas. This will also introduce Pakistan to prevailing international market and industry trends. Developing links of floor level professionals with academia is important for success.
Discussing establishment and upgrade of shipyards the Committee was informed that two shipyards will established one of which will be at the Straits of Hormuz; this will have extreme strategic importance. The Karachi shipyard will be upgraded and in the near future will capture a large share of global business.
Being briefed by DG DEPO regarding the strategy formulated for effective involvement of Private Sector during the IDEAS, permanent status of DEPO and business plan to achieve self sufficiency, the Committee was informed that the Department is taking various measures to capture international markets; that include registration of private defence industry by DEPO for marketing and provision of Export Development Fund (EDF) subsidy. It will also involve opening of EDF in DEPO for private defence industry through 0.25 percent share out of exports of private industry. Establishment and construction of Defence Expo Centres under DEPO in Karachi, Islamabad and Gwadar will be expedited as well. Chairman Committee, Senator Lt. General Abdul Qayyum HI (M) Retd stressed the need for flexibility for quick and seamless expansion and growth to capture international markets. It was asserted that preference must be given to reverse engineering, a strategy that has been successfully adapted by most countries. The need for devoting five percent of profits to marketing activities was emphasized as well. A three-member Committee was formed to provide advice and guidance to MoDP on strategic affairs.