May 30, 2014
TAHIR AMIN – BR Report –
The European countries have lifted ban on fish import from Pakistan which would begin in next two months through Gwadar Port, bringing Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to the country besides boosting exports as well as increase the port throughput significantly.
This was stated by the port and shipping minister Kamran Michael while briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee on Ports and Shipping, which met here on Thursday with Syed Ghulam Mustafa Shah in the chair. “Since the Gwadar Port establishment it could not be operationalised optimally and resultantly no significant increase was observed in trafficking,” the minister said.
Dostain Khan Jamaldini Chairman Gwadar Port Authority (GPA) said that no export is being made through the port since its establishment and only urea and wheat is being imported. However, now the country is self-sufficient in wheat as well and only urea is being imported. The country has imported about 5.8 million metric tons of urea and wheat since the port was made operational, the chairman added. He further said that Trade Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) has tendered to import about 150,000 metric tons of urea where major chunk would be imported through Gwadar Port. Minister said that China has planned to set up warehouses and processing zone at Gwadar Port after import/export would increase through the port and resultantly handsome revenue would be generated.
Dostain Khan said the former port operator M/s Port Singapore Authority Gwadar International Private Ltd was unsuccessful in bringing business to the port and future expansion of its infrastructure. Similarly, GPA was unable to fulfil its obligations, ie, provision of land for free zone and providing immediate connectivity as spelled out in the port operation Concession Agreement. Since May 2013 the port Concessional Right are transferred to the new operator China Overseas Ports Holding Company Limited (COPHCL). Both sides have agreed on a long-term bilateral trade and economic corridor programme, ie, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). During 2013-14 a number of decisions were taken and plans were approved, which are in process of being executed.
To resolve an obligation of GPA, the government is providing funds for establishment of Gwadar Port Free Zone. The Free Zone would be managed by the subsidiary of COPHO, namely, Gwadar Free Zone Company. Its execution will start in 2014-15. Port will cater for transshipment; export and import (through processing and manufacturing at local level) will bring Foreign Direct Investment to the country, boost exports, and would increase the port throughput significantly.
Chairman GPA further said that to resolve the port connectivity with the highway network, the earlier planned project, “Construction of Gwadar Port Eastbay Expressway” has now been agreed upon for funding under Opec. The project is in appraisal phase and its execution will start during the 3rd quarter of 2014-15, he added. Chairman further said that Gwadar is the only deep sea port of the country however during last three year no dredging at the port has been carried out which negatively affecting the port standard. However after nod of Prime Minister now the GPA will start the dredging work again with a cost of Rs 1.5 billion.
Committee chairman said that the contract should not be awarded to defaulter contractors as there are reports that a defaulter contractor is also bidding in the process. Minister said that all the matters would be thoroughly investigated before awarding the contract to ensure transparency in the process. Kamran said that to ensure the security of the pilgrims belonging to Shia community, travelling to Iran for the holy places the ministry would start ship services for the first time from Karachi to Iran. The ship would take about 48 hours to reach its destination and about 15 million Shia community would be benefited.
Kamran further said that the ministry would start ship services for low income pilgrimages visiting Saudi Arabia for Hajj next year. The Ministry of Religious Affairs did not allocate quota for the current year, saying that the quota has already been distributed, however for the next year a quota of 25 thousands people would be provided. The committee appreciated the efforts of the minister and supported for continuing such services.
Chairman GPA said that 13 projects worth Rs 2.45 billion related to the development of Gwadar port are proposed in next financial year while 3 projects worth Rs 130.5 million were proposed for the outgoing fiscal year and would be completed by June 30. He further said that the new operator (COPHC) has stared “recovery’ of existing available infrastructure & equipment on the port. COPHC is finalising Operational Plan of the port in consultation with GPA. GPA has suggested that the recovery phase of the Operational Plan should be completed by December 2014 so that a good throughput level is agreed for 2014-15.
Chairman GPA said that Secretary General Ma Renhong along with his team of Guangdong Logistics Industry Association, Guangzhou, China apprised GPA that they are interested to open a large exhibition / display of more than 50,000 Chinese products & brands at Gwadar Port. The proposed exhibition display center will be established on 25 acres of land. The proposal is currently under negotiation between GPA and GLIA who have agreed in principle to consider this unique trade and commerce initiative at Gwadar port. This large display center is expected to be completed in the second half of 2015. The team leader also apprised GPA of establishing “Marine Silk Route” between Guangdong and Gwadar via sea.