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KARACHI: Tariq Haleem, Vice-chairman, UBG Standing Committee on Maritime Affairs, Communications and Gwadar Development, Monday said at present Pakistan is standing at crossroads and under great financial pressure due to various reasons which also include past mistakes and the impact of Covid-19 on the economies of all the countries of the world including our great Pakistan.

Inflation is in double digits (11.5 percent). Trade deficit as of November 2021 was USD 20.75 billion. 1.00 USD = Rs. 178.50. Consumer price index has reached all-time high in November, 2021, ie, 158.18 points.

He alleged that one of the major reasons is also that the Business Men Panel (BMP) sitting in power in the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) is unable to play its role in coordinating with the government/suggesting ways and means to improve the economy up to implementation of suggestions on behalf of the Business Community of Pakistan.

The need of the hour is to develop inland waterways for transport of goods which will result in multiple benefits for the country including but not limited to water management, flood control, better output from the agriculture sector, aquatic tourism, creation of thousands of jobs, etc, if this is implemented hand in hand with improvements in rail transport, this will InshaAllah turn around the economy of Pakistan.

  1. Transshipment/transit cargoes: “We have already submitted concept paper to the Ministry of Maritime Affairs on “Transshipment/Transit Zone and Stock & Sale Zone. We believe that serous working is taking place on our suggestions and if our suggestions are properly adopted then we will InshaAllah also have extra cargoes moving from CIS States through initially from Karachi Port Trust and subsequently from Gwadar Port. We are confident that further roughly about 20 to 30 billion dollars worth of trade will pass through Pakistan by road, rail and sea.”

This would mean roughly about 2 million plus containers (TUES) moving through our sea ports both in and out.

Presently 3.2 million TEUS both Export & Import are moving through KPT & PQA.

This will also prove to be a tremendous growth to our economy, create jobs and ports, terminals both on dock and off dock will also benefit.

At present containers freight rates are very high but if container volumes increase substantially then freight taxes will come down.

We will be holding a conference very soon with stakeholders.

  1. Gwadar Port: When I was Vice President FPCCI I signed an MOU with China Overseas Ports Holding Company (COPHC) the concession holders of Gwadar Port and we also got an office in their new building for FPCCI free of cost.

The UBG has started working on Transshipment cargoes to Afghanistan via Gwadar Port. At this time we are the only group who is moving Transshipment of fertilizer cargoes in ship loads at Gwadar Port. We are working on other cargoes also and we expect that in the next 2 to 3 years Gwadar Port will be flying.

“We must remember if “the CPEC is the crown then Gwadar is the a jewel in the crown.”

Once Gwadar Port is properly operational due to InshaAllah mostly UBG efforts then there will also be major job openings not only for locals but for all Pakistanis.

  1. Soyabean seeds: Soyabean seed vessel MV. Hercules was discharging soyabean seeds at KPT on 15th February, 2020 when suddenly allegations were made that poisonous gas was coming out from the ship. Discharging was stopped. FIR’s were cut against stevedores etc. I on behalf of UBG immediately intervened and we put together a few members from KPT Labor Union, also our staff and investigated this matter. We found that there was no poisonous gas from the ship. Apparently this poisonous gas came from under the ground from garbage dumping areas, these poisonous gasses are called landfill gasses. In fact we located the area which was in proximity to RG Railway Colony, Bhutta Village, Jungle Shah from where the poisonous gas was coming out from the ground. If UBG had not taken these steps immediately then most probably seed vessels would not be able to call at Karachi Port. Seed cargo ships would have only one option FAP Terminal at Port Qasim which would result in bunching of ships and huge demurrages would be incurred.

UBG is working on many other projects for the business community and our great country Pakistan.

Tariq Haleem said if voters support us and UBG comes back into power we will make sure that the lost glory of FPCCI is regained and we will InshaAllah be playing a major role with the government to improve the financial situation of our great country Pakistan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021


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