ISLAMABAD: Senate Standing Committee on Defence Production on Wednesday recommended to the government to expedite efforts for construction of shipyard at Gwadar.
A meeting of the committee held here at Old Pakistan Institute of Parliamentary Services (PIPS) Hall with Senator Lt Gen (R) Abdul Qayyum in the chair, reviewed export details of closed financial year, covering Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) Kamra, Pakistan Ordnance Factory (POF), Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT). The meeting also reviewed domestic commercial sales of POF, HIT, National Radio and Telecommunication Corporation (NRTC) and Karachi Shipyard.
The meeting was attended by Minister for Defence Production Rana Tanveer Hussain, Senators – Mian Muhammad Ateeq Shaikh, Nuzhat Sadiq, Rubina Khalid, Sehar Kamran, Brig ® John Kenneth Williams and officials of concerned departments.
Officials of Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works Limited briefed the meeting about the proposed shipyard at Gwadar. They said that summary to set up the shipyard had been moved to the Prime Minister and Planning Commission for approval. The panel was informed that investment from a Chinese partner was also available for the project.
The Committee expressed the concern that work on the proposed shipyard had been delayed for around four years and recommended that it should be started immediately.
“We strongly recommend that efforts should be expedited to set up the shipyard,” the Chairman of the Committee said. The Committee was of the view that the project would help increase economic growth, create job opportunities and help the Gwadar Port to expand exponentially in commercial terms. “We need to work to set up more dams and shipyards as these are necessary for a bright future,” the Chairman remarked. Minister for Defence Production expressed the hope that the shipyard would soon get a go ahead from the government. “Initially; there were some reservations that instead of Ministry of Defence Production, this project should be with Ministry of Ports and Shipping.
“The Prime Minister is very much clear on this project, but I think there are some issues at the lower level,” he maintained. Chairman POF Lt General Umar Farooq and other top officials briefed the Committee about export earnings of POF during the past five years. The Committee was also briefed about domestic commercial sales of POF in the year 2016-17.
They told the meeting that around 80% POF machinery was above 40 years old and sought government’s help to upgrade the machinery and plant.
“If we manage to get new machinery we will be able to give better production at cheaper rates. This will also bring us in a position to share government’s burden,” the POF Chairman stated. He said it was POF’s top most priority to be cost effective. “We are also trying our best to meet our Armed Forces requirements as well as enhance our exports,” he added.
“New machinery is their (POF’s) requirement and we should recommend that they should have that,” Senator Sehar Kamran said.
Lt Gen (R) Abdul Qayyum said that at the time of Independence, Pakistan had just one Ordnance factory but today it had achieved tremendous progress towards that direction. “We are almost self-sufficient in small arms and ammunition.
This is a major contribution of POF,” he added. He was of the view that to achieve more results and become commercially viable, the POF needed to be cost-effective stating that it could be only be achieved when it (POF) would have state-of-the-art machinery. He recommended that POF should have latest technology to produce quality and cost effective products at a faster pace.
The officials of PAC in their briefing told the Committee about major achievements. They briefed about production and sale of JF-17 and Super Mushak to different countries, including Nigeria, Qatar and Turkey, Azerbaijan, Maldives and Iraq. The Committee was told that PAC needed more budget for building new infrastructure. The HIT officials on the occasion briefed the Committee about defence production of the year 2016-17, including tanks manufacturing and their rebuilding and upgradation and armour personnel carriers. They also briefed about production targets of next year.