TOKYO: A Singapore-based business group has expressed interest to invest $2 billion in the Pakistani shipping sector, which will help generate 3,000 to 4,000 jobs in the country.
Pakistan currently owns only nine merchant ships, three tankers, and six bulk carriers, and pays $4 billion in freight to foreign ships.
Global Radiance Group Chairman Abdul Latif Siddiqui said the company was interested in building and managing 50 new ships for Pakistan. “The proposal needs no financial assistance from the government,” he added.
Speaking about the potential of Gwadar under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Siddiqui said the prospects were bright for the shipping industry, but it was not possible to take advantage of the opportunity without appropriate legislation and incentives.
“Incentives for importers and exporters in form of rebates and competitive freight charges would ensure sustained availability of cargo, thereby generating enough to pay off the cost instalments,” he said, adding that appropriate legislation to restrict transportation of cargo through foreign shipping companies when local ships were available for the job would also benefit the investor. The chairman of Global Radiance said the company would project the CPEC’s import and export potential to establish what sizes and types of ships would be required for building to ensure maximum utilisation of each vessel.
This investment, the chairman said would save Pakistan $4 billion freight charges, while generating revenues.
“Total number of seafarers is less than 65,786 - with 18,988 officers, and 46,798 crew members. Total estimated forex received is around half a billion dollars. Whereas a country like Philippines is earning over $6 billion annually from the shipping industry, mainly through providing human resource,” the chairman added.
Siddiqui said the Pakistani shipping sector was thriving before it was nationalised in the 1970s. “In 70s however, the gap was filled by Gokal shipping, who managed a large fleet (approximately 380 ships of various sizes) creating enough jobs.” He said that compared to the Pakistan National Shipping Corporation (PNSC), Bangladesh has more than 100 ships.
“Currently, PNSC tankers are used to carry oil for Pakistan, where exists an even larger demand considering the present and future requirements due to CPEC and the proposed oil refinery,” he added.