KARACHI, July 6: Minister for Ports and Shipping Senator Kamran Micheal said on Saturday that Sri Lanka is ready to give sea cargo to Pakistani flagships, and an oil city would be developed at Gwadar where refineries would be set up to meet China’s energy needs through oil pipeline coming from Iran.
Talking to newsmen at a luncheon meeting at a local hotel, the minister said: “when we do not want aid and talk about trade, so we have to take such steps which can help promote our trade relations with neighbouring countries, like Sri Lanka.”
He said he held a meeting with Sri Lankan ambassador in PNCS building where cooperation in shipping was discussed for promoting trade between the two countries.
The minister said that Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC) flotilla, consisting of seven bulk carriers and three oil-tankers, would be available to carry Sri Lankan cargo. This would help enhance PNSC revenue which could be used for expanding the fleet of the corporation.
He said soon he would be visiting Sri Lanka for singing an agreement for cooperation in ports and shipping and haulage of Sri Lankan cargo by Pakistani ships.
“This would not only expand trade relations between the two countries, but would also help create jobs,” he added.
He said that he would soon be visiting China to discuss and finalise Gwadar port concession agreement and added that if Pakistan wants to come out of economic crisis, it would have to develop closer economic links with China.
He further said that the Gwadar port concession given to China Overseas Port Holding Company is the same given to Port of Singapore, but he would like to make changes in some of the terms and conditions before finalising the agreement with China.
Responding to a question, he said, the sections related to marketing in the Gwadar port concession would be changed and Pakistan would like to retain them in the larger interest of the country.
The minister said that he paid a visit to Gwadar port and was not satisfied with the progress and feels that the work should be speeded up because the project is very important and has the potential to make economic progress in the country at large and Balochistan, in particular.
During his visit, the minister said the Dutch ambassador also accompanied him who extended assistance in expansion and upgradation of the fishing harbour which is presently being used as a playground by locals. The ambassador also offered to assist in providing PET raisin baskets for handling fish catch.
There was a time Pakistan’s ship-breaking industry at Gadani was the largest of the world, but now Bangladesh and India are leaders in this industry. Therefore, the minister said, efforts would be made to revive this industry for which a core committee had been formed.
Senator Kamran Micheal said Marine Academy would be upgraded and converted into university to cater our needs and of other countries.
He said all avenues will be explored and Ministry of Ports and Shipping and its affiliated departments would be opened up and upgraded to meet the fast changing technological as well as rapidly growing economic trade activities of the country.
He further said all corrupt elements would be removed from the ministry and its affiliated departments and an important announcement would be made in Ramadan.
To a question, the minister said presently three berths were operational at Gwadar port and soon five more would become operational and Chinese concession holders would be asked to speed up work and Pakistan has assured them of full security and proper working environment.
Referring to deteriorating law and order situation in the city which is also affecting port operations, the minister said that soon the interior minister, Chaudhary Nisar, would be visiting Karachi and hold meetings with Governor and Chief Minister of Sindh.