Gulf countries expected to invest $500m

From Zeeshan Mirza

KARACHI: Maritime Affairs Minister Faisal Sabzwari has said an agreement for a $500 million investment from the Gulf countries is being finalised.

In this regard, an intergovernmental agreement policy would be submitted to the law ministry on Monday (today), which if approved, would pave the way for direct foreign investment as per the conditions set by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Addressing the members of the Korangi Association of Trade and Industry (KATI), he said Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are working under the government-to-government (G2G) agreement, focusing on three projects, including bulk terminals.

According to the KATI’s press release, Mr Sabzwari said that plans are under way to establish 1,250 acres of industrial parks in Port Qasim, offering facilities to foreign investors.

He noted that there have been no tariff charge increases at the port, but digitalisation has yet to be implemented, while restrictions on leases have been imposed. He added that terminal charges have now been raised from 60 cents to 80 cents, resulting in a marginal increase of only 1.5pc in the cost of production for industrialists.

He also mentioned that consultations with all stakeholders, including container operators, have taken place to reduce demurrage charges and other penalties at the port. Consequently, Karachi Port has eliminated all penalties associated with these charges.

He further highlighted the addition of a maritime vessel to the Karachi port fleet for transporting edible oil.

The federal minister also announced the approval for the construction of a beach wall at Karachi Fish Harbour, intended for tourism and recreational purposes. He further mentioned that instructions have been issued to establish a laboratory for marine fisheries.

Earlier, KATI President Faraz-ur-Rehman emphasised the need for regulating shipping companies and proposed the implementation of a system for demurrage charges and penalties based on the container’s value.

He suggested that the demurrage charges system should be made accessible online, similar to the shipping booking system WeBoC.

KATI Deputy Patron-in-Chief Zubair Chayya stated that Pakistan, with its 1,400-kilometre-long coastline and abundant marine resources, including highly sought-after fish species, should focus on utilising the coastal belt for tourism to achieve substantial economic benefits.