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ISLAMABAD: President Dr Arif Alvi has directed State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) to make all necessary arrangements for trade in local currency with Iran and Afghanistan.

He gave these instructions to both SBP and FBR at a high-level meeting held in Gwadar last month and attended by Chairman Senate, Deputy Speaker National Assembly, Finance Minister, Shaukat Tarin, Minister for Maritime Affairs, Ali Zaidi, Commerce Advisor, Abdul Razak Dawood, Corps Commander, Quetta and officials of provincial government.

The president, who wants clear timelines for implementation on the decision taken in the meeting, directed all stakeholders particularly Government of Balochistan, chairman FBR, Advisor on Commerce and Investment to expedite the process of establishing border markets as well as facilitation of people on all crossing points at Afghan and Iran border. It was also decided that all relevant departments will harness the trade potential of each border according to the demands of local people.

According to official documents, the chair discussed the issue of illegal trawling in detail and expressed his satisfaction over all measures taken up by Balochistan government, Fisheries department, PSMA and Government of Sindh. However, the chair directed that zero tolerance should be the policy regarding illegal trawling and all efforts should be directed to completely eradicate illegal trawling on permanent basis.

Alvi expressed his complete satisfaction over reduction of check posts in and around Gwadar. It was further corroborated by MNA and MPA of Gwadar that promise of minimum check posts and restrictions has been fulfilled. The president further directed that all departments should take all measures to win the confidence of the people.

For establishment of separate administrative model for Gwadar it was decided by the president that all legal and other requirements should be met in the next three months so that a better governance model can be introduced in Gwadar.

With regard to provision of electricity to Gwadar from Iran, it was decided that demand of 120 MW already made to Iran will materialize on an urgent basis with continuous supply for the entire year.

Pakistan-Iran trade likely to increase to $5bn in next 5 yrs

On Master Plan implementation, the meeting decided that issues during execution should be identified and micro planning should be completed within six months. In addition, monitoring mechanism should be strengthened.

Alvi also directed that all issues including outstanding dues and uninterrupted supply from Iran in future should be resolved in the next meeting with Iranian counterparts.

The meeting also discussed progress on measures to be taken to insure presence of relevant departments e.g. FBR/Customs and FIA on border crossing points and timelines to be shared with Government of Balochistan.

The president directed that all relevant departments including FBR, Customs, FIA, industries etc should have adequate presence at borders as relevant departments are not providing their services on all border crossing points.

To create more enabling environment for investment in Gwadar, the president directed Ministry of Interior that security clearance process of investors must be expedited and initiatives in this regard must be shared.

With regard to trade in local currency, President Dr Arif Alvi directed Governor State Bank of Pakistan, Dr Reza Baqar and Federal Board of Revenue to make all necessary arrangements for trade in local currency with Iran and Afghanistan.

The president also directed that all private banks should open branches on all crossing points. The governor, SBP, who was taken on call assured his complete assistance and support.

“All adequate arrangements should be done to provide banking facilities at Gwadar Port and issues in this regard must be taken up on an urgent basis”, the president added.

The meeting discussed Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) import and relevant issues in detail. President Dr Alvi directed that federal and provincial governments should undertake all efforts for maximum facilitation of LPG imports and maximum capitalization at the Iran border.

He directed all relevant departments particularly Ogra and FBR to address the issues of substandard decanting of substandard refilling plants, unauthorized browsers and dysfunctional/ non-operational firms within six months.

With regard to fuel stations and LPG, Alvi directed PSO to open 13 new stations in different districts of Gwadar and four fuel stations with service areas should be established at coastal highway.

Pakistan, Iran discuss ways to promote bilateral trade

On high Iranian tariffs, the president directed PM Advisor on Commerce and Investment, Abdul Razak Dawood as well as FBR that it may be taken up with Iran on urgent basis to enhance and bolster trade for the benefit of the people on both sides. He maintained that maximum comparative advantage should be harnessed.

The meeting decided that enabling environment should be created to attract maximum local and foreign investment and development of Free Trade Zone phase 2 should be expedited.

Alvi also directed that 1.2 MGD RO plant may be made operational before June 30, 2022 to reduce water crises in Gwadar. Since all issues have been resolved the President directed that project should be started without further delay and should be completed within three years.

On 300 MW coal power plant and electricity crises in Gwadar, the president directed that Chinese commitment of 3000 solar panels should be met on urgent basis and panels should be installed within three months and GoB must ensure transparency in the installation of solar panels.

On the long-standing issue of connectivity of Gwadar with national grid, Dr Alvi directed that a proper timeline should be given to NTDC and FWO so that it can be completed within two years.

He directed that New Gwadar International Airport should be completed before November 2023 for maximum connectivity of Gwadar and revenue generation plan for its sustainability should also be prepared on an urgent basis.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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