LAHORE: Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Kamran Michael said that no container can be taken out from any port without clearance by the Customs authorities.
Talking to media persons at the Lahore Press Club recently, he said that a committee had been formed to probe into the matter of missing containers and its report would be made public. The Minister stated that fake documents might have been used in the past for the clearance of containers at Port Qasim. He said the United States Embassy has also rejected the news items about the missing containers. “However, we should wait for the investigation report”, he added.
Presenting the three-month performance report of his ministry, Kamran Michael told the media that his ministry had successfully got removed the European Union’s ban on import of fish from Pakistan and now the country would be able to earn billions of dollars through fish export to EU countries.
The Federal Minister informed the reporters that an agreement with Belgium was in the pipeline for the provision of cold storage, latest warehousing facilities and packaging system of international standard for the export of fish and other sea products at Gwadar Port.
He said that Belgium had expressed its willingness to provide technical training and scholarships to the officers of Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC). Regarding the provision of facilities to fishermen, the Minister said that fibre-boats with life-saving gear and installed navigation system would be provided on easy instalments to them.
He said the PNSC was in deficit and it was operating with just three oil-tankers and seven bulk-ships, adding that more new oil-tankers would be purchased through tenders during the current month to improve the performance of the corporation. He said that Sri Lanka had also expressed its interest in utilising Pakistani oil-tankers for its trade which would be helpful in generating more revenue.
Kamran Michael said that Pakistan’s ship-breaking Industry was one of the best in the world but now it was facing a decline. However, he maintained that the government has taken steps to revive the industry and a piece of land measuring 170 acres had been allocated for this purpose.
He said that only one marine academy was in operation to train officers, but the ministry was now trying to give it the status of a university.
The Minister said a biometric system to tackle ghost employment had been installed at all the ports, as about 600 ghost employees had been identified only at Port Qasim who were appointed during the previous regime. He announced that a ferry service between Karachi and Gwadar will be initiated soon. Negotiations with the governments of Oman and UAE were also underway to operate such ferries between Pakistan and the two Gulf states.
He said that all the previous tenders, which were termed dubious by the Transparency International, had been cancelled. He added: “A tender was floated to buy a helicopter for Rs8.75 billion for Port Qasim but the Ministry has cancelled the tender as the port doesn’t need it.”
The Minister said that the ports are being connected to the Railways so that containers could be transported at low cost.
LPC President Arshad Ansari offered honorary life membership of the club to the Minister. Secretary Shahbaz Mian and other members of the governing body also spoke on the occasion.