ISLAMABAD: Gwadar Port has been opened for transit trade and the first ship in this regard is set to arrive next week, a sub-committee of the Senate Standing Committee on Maritime Affairs was informed on Tuesday.

Officials of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs briefed the sub-committee regarding transit trade and transshipment. The body was informed that the Afghan Trade Transit (ATT) Module required some changes that have been applied and after initial testing it is ready for application.

The senate body was informed that the first ATT shipment would arrive on Oct 8, next week at Gwadar port, which will gradually increase.

Convener of the sub-committee Senator Kauda Babar, who hails from Gwadar, pointed out towards the lacunas in planning and development of the area.

The officials acknowledged that Gwadar Port’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 business to Gwadar.

The sub-committee also discussed the storage facilities for fish processing within or outside the port, the committee was assured that additional taxes would not be imposed on the Chinese companies to establishing such facilities and investments in this regard.

The sub-committee discussed legal framework, rules and regulations pertaining to fish dumping and reprocessing facilities at Gwadar Port to local and foreign investors including the Chinese companies. Senator Babar said,“the major firms will be asked to adopt a resolution to employ local population for jobs at such facilities.”

It was also decided that there has to be a national level policy regarding fishing trawlers and a uniform mechanism has to be formulated for all provinces, as marine fishing is conducted in off the coast of Sindh as well as Balochistan. The sub-committee informed that the revised PC-1 of Eastbay Expressway Project at Gwadar was being submitted to Ecnec for approval.

Probing the matter of internet connectivity and quotation of Rs14 million issued by PTCL for works relating to Optic Fibre connection and installation, the committee was informed that PTCL has now agreed for the said setup.

The matter is being handled by PTCL and China Overseas Ports Holding Company Pakistan (Pvt.) Ltd. (COPHC) and the members noted that distance from the gate to the pole was around three kilometres as opposed to 6.4 km that have been quoted.

“Charges are therefore exaggerated,” Senator Babar added.

The meeting was attended by Senators Moula Bux Chandio and Muhammad Akram as well as senior officers from the Ministry of Maritime Affairs, Information Technology and Telecommunications, Gwadar Port Authority Federal Board of Revenue, PTCL and others.

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