Modern, accessible seaports to help country earn billions of dollars: PM Shehbaz

Published July 7, 2024
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairing a meeting regarding Karachi Port Trust , Port Qasim Authority and Pakistan National Shipping Corporation in Karachi on July 7 2024.—DawnNewsTV
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairing a meeting regarding Karachi Port Trust , Port Qasim Authority and Pakistan National Shipping Corporation in Karachi on July 7 2024.—DawnNewsTV

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday said that modern and accessible seaports could help the country boost its foreign exchange reserves as he arrived in Karachi on a day-long visit to review port operations.

According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, the premier said that during his visit to Kazakhstan, leaders of Central Asian States (CAS) had expressed “deep interest” in using Pakistan’s ports for trade, emphasising the country’s “key importance in the region”.

“Modern system in ports and further improvement in accessing them, Pakistan can earn billions of dollars in foreign exchange,” he said, adding that he will increase exports from the value addition industry by developing the existing ports in Karachi.

“Steps should be taken to reduce the customs clearance time by installing modern equipment and machinery at Port Qasim and Karachi Port,” the statement read.

Furthermore, the prime minister stressed on the “uninterrupted delivery of goods” from Karachi Port, adding that for this reason the Lyari Expressway “should be kept open for cargo traffic 24 hours a day”.

“A comprehensive action plan for the regulation of shipping laws should be prepared and presented soon,” the statement said, adding that the prime minister had directed that the fees for LNG ships at Port Qasim to be reduced and fixed according to prevailing rates at the international level.

Furthermore, the statement also said that the prime minister had instructed Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC) to “formulate and present a comprehensive plan to reduce its cost and make its operations effective”.

“Development of private sector in the country, ease of doing business and convenience for investors are the top priorities of the government,” the PMO wrote.

The visit comes after PM Shehbaz invited Tajikistan to “avail the facilities of Pakistani seaports” for transit trade while on a two-day official visit to the Central Asian country this week.

“The prime minister informed the Tajik president about the operationalisation of Gwadar seaport and offered Tajikistan the opportunity to avail the facilities of Pakistani seaports,” a joint statement issued by the two countries said.

“It was highlighted that the Pakistani seaports offer the most efficient, shortest, and economic route for the Central Asian countries including Tajikistan to the markets in the Middle East and beyond”.

During his maiden visit to Karachi in April since assuming premiership earlier this year, the PM’s resolve was met with apprehensions from industry leaders who said it was “almost impossible” to do business under the current circumstances, particularly with high energy costs and inconsistent government policies.

Posing tough questions during an hour-long meeting at the CM House, Karachi’s business community appreciated the PM’s “determination”, but advised him to focus on bringing about political stability to “turn around” the economy.

He termed the meeting an attempt to listen to the “brilliant minds of business, absorb what they say, and put it into action” for a comprehensive economic growth roadmap.“

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