Gwadar Port opens for transit trade, Senate body told

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ISLAMABAD: The sub-committee of the Senate’s Standing Committee on Maritime Affairs, in its meeting on Tuesday, reviewed in detail various issues pertaining to Gwadar Port and its investors.

It was disclosed that the port has been opened for transit trade and the first shipment in this regard is due next Tuesday.

Convened by Senator Kauda Babar, the meeting was attended by Senator Moula Bux Chandio, Senator Muhammad Akram and senior officers of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Ministry of Information Technology and Telecommunications, Gwadar Port Authority, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and Pakistan telecommunication Limited (PTCL).

During the meeting, a compliance report on the progress made on the recommendations of the sub-committee was submitted. Probing the matter of internet connectivity and quotation of Rs14 million issued by PTCL for works related to optic fibre connection and installation, the committee was informed that PTCL has now agreed for the said setup, and that the matter is being handled by PTCL and China Overseas Ports Holding Company.

The committee was of the view that distance from the gate to the pole was maximum 3kms as opposed to 6.4kms quoted by PTCL. It termed the quoted amount of Rs14 million as “exaggerated”.

The committee was informed that “right of way” charges would be applied and local administration would be consulted for this purpose.

Regarding the WeBOC system installation, FBR was of the view that fibre optics connection, which is much faster compared to the currently available radio connection, would help expedite work in this regard.

Briefing the committee regarding transit trade and transhipment, the committee was told that the Afghan Trade Transit Module required some changes that have been applied and after initial testing, it is ready for application.

It was disclosed that Gwadar’s main competitors would be Singapore and Dubai ports since incentives such as “no cargo demurrage charges” and “three months storage facility” would surely divert businesses to Gwadar.

Regarding storage facilities for fish processing within or outside the port, the committee was assured that the Chinese companies would not be slapped with extra taxes.

Discussing the legal framework/rules/regulations pertaining to fish dumping and reprocessing facilities at Gwadar Port to local/foreign investors and Chinese companies, Convener Senator Kauda Babar said that a resolution must be passed to employ local population for jobs at the facility.

The committee was informed that issues such as absence of monitoring and control services have created massive hurdles.

The committee directed that all efforts must be made to pursue and resolve this issue at the earliest. It recommended that trawling and policing issues must be discussed in detail and a uniform mechanism be formulated for all provinces.

Reviewing the Eastbay Expressway Project at Gwadar, the committee was informed that a revised PC-1 is being submitted to the Executive Committee of National Economic Council for approval in this regard.

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