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SHC allows fertiliser import thru Gwadar Port

KARACHI: The Sindh High Court has allowed Trading Corporation of Pakistan to import fertiliser through Gwadar Port.

With this order, the court vacated the case filed by A R Khan & Sons versus the Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) and the Federation of Pakistan.

The SHC had previously given a stay order in the case because it was claimed by A R Khan and Sons that taking fertiliser vessels to Gwadar Port was causing billions of rupees losses to the country.

Now the SHC has allowed the cargo to be taken to Gwadar to reduce the deprivation of Balochistan.

The News has learnt that the matter was also taken up in the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) meeting on Tuesday. The ECC revisited its previous decision and allowed import of fertiliser to be handled at both Gwadar Port and other ports. About 125,000 tonnes fertiliser has already arrived at Port Qasim and ships containing similar quantity are likely to arrive at Gwadar in March and April.

Officials said Port of Singapore Authority (PSA) was merely depending upon the government cargo and deviating from the master plan of the government. The government was constrained to divert a major portion of its cargoes to Gwadar to make the port functional. It suffered multiple losses in the process, by paying huge amounts to transport the cargoes back to Karachi, they said.

Officials added that neither Gwadar Port Authority (GPA) earned any sizeable revenue nor did the local people secure any employment or a formidable business opportunity.

A GPA official on the condition of anonymity said that the Ministry of Ports and Shipping had written several reminders to PSA to focus on the master plan and bring the agreed investment, but to no avail.

Mehmood Molvi, Chairman M M Commodities and M M Marine Services, said that it was not feasible to send cargo to Gwadar because of the cost involved and especially when the people of Balochistan, particularly of Gwadar, were not benefiting from it. He added that the prime beneficiaries of handling of government cargo at Gwadar were PSA and transporters. GPA is receiving only nine percent of port charges as per the agreement.

The government spent Rs6.25 billion from March, 2008, to January, 2010 and Rs781 million from April, 2010, to June to keep the Gwadar Port functioning.

This extra money could have been directly invested on the development of Balochistan, particularly Gwadar, he said.

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