According to Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) Acting President M Shakeel Munir, Pakistan’s share is less than one percent in $62 billion worldwide marble trade despite the fact that the country is gifted with all kind of natural resources, including best quality marble and granite. He says that over 64 varieties of marble and granite are found in various parts of the country with estimated reserves of 350 million tons. Hence, the country has great potential to capture the world market if it converts raw material into value added goods. At least 1,200 million ton marble is excavated in all over the world per year with total production value of $40 billion.However, despite great potential to bag lion share in the world market, the promotion of marble industry has never been at the priority list of the government. According to Munir, marble industry can outperform even the textile sector and has the potential to become the backbone of the economy.
The mining and processing of marble and granite needs latest technology and the government support as well as incentives for local and foreign investors. Electricity shortage is a major hurdle in the industrial development of the country which has affected every sector of the economyand marble industry is not an exception. The industry needs regular power supply and diversification of marble products as marble is not only used in building construction but also in cottage industry as a major component of handicrafts.
The current policy of the government is that it invites investors without providing them basic facilities and a level playing field. Electricity is insufficient and expensive, law and order in marble-rich areas is poor and road infrastructure is non-existent. In this situation, the government efforts to invite investment to this sector will be a futile exercise.
The government had set up Pakistan Stone Development Company for the development of marble and granite sector with special emphasis on mechanised mining while establishment of a marble city was also planned near the federal capital. However, unless the government and private sector join hands and make concerted efforts, the desired results will be hard to achieve.