Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif chairs the meeting regarding Karachi Port Trust, Port Qasim Authority and Pakistan National Shipping Corporation in Karachi on July 7, 2024. — PID

KARACHI: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday said that Pakistan could earn billions of dollars via modernisation of its ports and cash in on the country’s geographic prominence in international maritime trade.

During his one-day visit to Karachi today, the premier issued the directives while chairing a session in which he was briefed on the Karachi Port Trust (KPT), Port Qasim and Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC).

The high-level session was attended by federal ministers Muhammad Aurangzeb, Jam Kamal Khan, Ahad Khan Cheema, Attaullah Tarar, Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, Qaiser Ahmed Sheikh, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman and others.

PM Shehbaz said that steps should be taken to reduce Customs clearance time by installation of modern machinery. He also emphasised on connectivity of the KPT via road and rail network for the ease of access for goods.

He also directed that the Lyari Expressway should be opened 24/7 to ensure an unhindered supply of goods to the KPT, as well as linking the port to the Malir Expressway to improve the delivery of goods.

He ordered to enhance the goods’ supply by linking the port to a rail network.

PM Shehbaz ordered the Port Qasim Authority to reduce charges for LNG cargo vessels and bring them in line with the international rates.

He sought a comprehensive strategy for the regulation of shipping lines besides ordering the PNSC to cut its expenditures.

“Development of private sector, ease in doing business and facilitation of investors are our top priorities,” the premier said, adding that the national economy was stable and on the path of growth and development.

He added that the “federal government is providing maximum facilities” to exporters for the development of the country’s export sector.

At the same time, the premier asked the authorities to present a report to compare KPT’s performance with other ports.

During the briefing session, PM Shehbaz said that “Pakistan possesses key geographical importance in the region”. He detailed his meetings with the leaders of the Central Asian states and the Russian president during his Kazakhstan visit.

He said that Pakistan provides a convenient route for the Central Asian states to gain access to maritime trade while the countries also expressed interest in using Pakistani ports for trade.

PM Shehbaz said that Pakistan could earn billions of dollars via the modernisation of ports. He vowed that Islamabad eyes enhancement of exports through its value-addition industry after the upgradation of its ports.

He directed port authorities to ensure the installation of modern machinery at the earliest and adopt effective steps for the utilisation of full advantages of the country’s ports.

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