Govt to provide incentives to port, shipping sector: PM

KARACHI: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said Tuesday that the government will continue to support ports and shipping industry to attract long term investments. He was speaking at the inauguration of $ 150 million FAP grain and fertiliser terminal at Port Qasim. Sindh Governor Dr. Ishrat-ul-Ebad Khan, Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Federal Ports  and Shipping  Minister  Babar Khan Ghauri were also present on the occasion.“Following examples of various developing countries, the government is always seeking new avenues to facilitate and encourage foreign investment into the country through provision of incentives and business friendly policies in the shipping and ports sector”, the PM remarked.Gilani said that the ports are vital to the economic development of Pakistan. “Efficient ports and terminals lower the cost of imports, bring revenue through exports, increase our foreign exchange reserves and enhance tax collection through greater transparency”, he added.He expressed confidence that these measures will help the people of Pakistan by reducing food inflation, a phenomenon that is most hurting  to the poor people of our nation.Being one of the busiest ports in the country, Port Qasim’s current contribution to the country’s economic activities is quite significant, he noted.
He pointed out that  world-class facilities such as this terminal will further contribute to our GDP and help Pakistan achieve its goals in becoming a strategic hub for regional trade.
He noted that  recent trends in the shipping industry have shown that cargo ships are becoming larger. These vessels have enhanced capacity to transport cargo in bulk quantities which makes commodities cheaper for the end consumer by reducing transportation costs and time to reach the market.The Prime Minister observed that availing this opportunity is only possible if our ports and shipping channels can accommodate these large vessels, commonly known as Super Panamax.He regretted that until now Port Qasim could only accommodate dry bulk vessels of 50,000 tons capacity due to the outdated terminals and depth of the channel.
He said that the new terminal has been built to accommodate vessels of 75,000 tons capacity. However, due to shallow depth of 12 meters of the channel at the moment, vessels of 75,000 tonnage capacity cannot reach  this new terminal.He asked PQA to dredge the channel to 14  metres  on war footings so that  larger vessels can actually reach the berth at the Terminal in the coming months.This is part of the Port Qasim’s master plan, which needs to be implemented so as to take the maximum advantage from this terminal.
The faster this is done, the sooner Pakistan will be able to save millions of dollars in foreign exchange through reduced freight charges on charter of vessels, allowing the government to redirect funds to various development projects and increase volumes of cargo at PQA.
Yusuf Raza Gilani  said that the nation has passed through a very turbulent period during and after the unprecedented floods which have left us with a huge challenge ahead in terms of rehabilitation and reconstruction.Acknowledging  the efforts of the Minister for Ports and Shipping, the Chairman of  Port Qasim Authority and other government organisations, he said that their positive interaction with the private sector has rendered this vision into a reality today.He noted that this state of the art terminal is a gift to the people of Pakistan. It will help in reducing costs, increasing speed of loading and unloading, and preventing wastage.
It would also ensure that the commodities related to the field of agriculture are handled according to the highest international standards.Responding to some suggestions, the Prime Minister said that he has already directed National Highway Authority (NHA) to complete Rato-Dero link as soon as possible to ensure that north-bound cargo from Gawadar Port should directly go to the National Highway.He said that the coalition government was pursuing the policy of reconciliation aGilani said that he will ask TCP to route all their import cargo through FAP terminal to reduce cost and time.In his remarks, Ports and Shipping Minister Babar Khan Ghauri said that the various groups were spreading rumours about cracks in coalition government, but the presence of Prime Minister in this function has proved their propaganda a failure.This has given a clear signal to them that the present government means business and development and prosperity of Pakistan. “More and more investment is coming into the country despite the negative propaganda”, he added.
He said the entire team of the federal government is working hard to attract investment in the country and strengthen its economy.
The Minister said that Port Qasim has planned to further dredge the channel to 14  metres   to accommodate large ships with 75,000 dead weight tonnage (DWT).Earlier, Chairman FAP Lt. Gen. (Rtd) Hamid Rab Nawaz said that the terminal built over 22 acres of land, also has the modern silos to store 100,000 MT of dry cargo.Later, the Prime Minister inaugurated the terminal by unveiling the plaque and visited various facilities at the site – App