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July 3, 2015

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Works on Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project continues: minister

KARACHI: The government is building a pipeline in Gwadar, which is the main part of Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, a minister said on Thursday.
Minister for Commerce Engineer Khurram Dastgir Khan, addressing office bearers of the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), said the gas pipeline will later be extended to Nawabshah from Gwadar.
“The gas pipeline will later connect Gwader to Nawabshah… the government is also constructing a gas pipeline till Iran border from Gawader," Khan said.
The pipeline project from Gwadar-Nawabshah is over 700 kilometers.
The government target to complete pipeline project in 30 months. the pipeline from Gwadar to Iran border (about 80 km) will be built by two Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited) and Sui Southern Gas Company. It will be completed before Gwadar-Nawabshah pipeline.
The controversial Iran-Pakistan pipeline project was planned to ease the country’s chronic gas shortage. But, last year the government shelved its multibillion-dollar gas pipeline project because of sanctions imposed by the US and the EU on Iran.
Pakistan was facing funding problems to build its section of the pipeline after the US government had warned that the Iran-Pakistan pipeline project would risk triggering sanctions.
The Iranian side of the $7.5 billion project is almost complete, but Pakistan has been running into repeated problems paying for the section to be built on its side of the border.
Khan said Gwadar will also be connected with a land route with Chaman that would be a strategic route of Pakistan to access to Afghanistan and Central Asia.
He said Pakistan is working on a second free trade agreement (FTA) with China, adding that businessmen’s advices will be incorporated in this.
Minister Khan said Pakistan’s exports to China increased by four times after Pakistan-China FTA.
“We are also working on FTAs with Turkey and Thailand,” he added.
Khan said Pakistan’s

ranking by international institutes showed that there was an improvement in the last two years and reforms were delivered to enhance Pakistan’s ability to pay loans.
“Two years ago, Pakistan’s situation was not better than Greece,” he said.
Khan said relations between Pakistan and India have been tense after a change of government in India.
Pakistan has shifted its trade focus to Afghanistan and central Asia despite the fact that trade with India continues.
He said Afghanistan had removed duties on Pakistan’s transit trade with Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.
Earlier Zubair Motiwala, ex-president of KCCI, said gas and electricity tariffs in India and Bangladesh are lower than Pakistan.
He said the FBR recently froze businessmen’s accounts and took away whole money in them to show its tax recovery.
“When contacted FBR officials said they would discuss this in July as they were running short of the targets,” Motiwala said
He warned that if working environment for businessmen is not improved Pakistan’s exports will drop 15 to 20 percent.
Iftikhar Vohra, president of KCCI said behavior of the FBR with the businessmen is not satisfactory. “There is a need of changing the mindset (of government) towards businessmen,” he added.

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