Tuesday September 21, 2021

Dire need amid corona challenge: Not a single sanitizer manufacturing unit in country

March 25, 2020

LAHORE: There is not a single sanitizer manufacturing unit in Pakistan and only two or three brands are imported while the country is exporting almost 653,443 tons of ethanol – a main raw material of sanitizers, a chemical industry official disclosed.

Further, it takes almost four to six months to get a licence for starting a sanitizer manufacturing unit in the country, conditioned to fulfillment of all prerequisites. However, due to lengthy and complicated requirements, it takes almost a year to get a licence of sanitizer manufacturing unit and procuring ethanol for commercial use.

The industry sources said for getting permission for ethanol production, the industry department gives conditional permission after visiting the manufacturing unit and inspecting the vicinity. The department sends the preliminary report which is finally approved by 15 institutions in a joint meeting. This uphill task discourages investors. Unfortunately, due to these limitations, not a single sanitizer manufacturing unit is operating in the country while two or three multinational brands are imported for selling them.

Furthermore, there was no culture of using sanitizer in the country before the coronavirus pandemic. However, after the Covid-19 pandemic, the demand of sanitizer is on the rise and locally-made unbranded sanitizers are being produced by unlicenced manufactures to meet the domestic demand. However, the industry was unable to get required raw material as they need a licence for ethanol consumption.

Despite this situation, the Pakistan Chemical Manufacturers Association (PCMA) Tuesday offered to arrange manufacturing of sanitizers on war-footing, through its member-companies to cope with shortage of the product due to excessive demand in the wake of coronavirus spread.

PCMA Chairman Abrar Ahmad said the association members have the capacity to manufacture sanitizers in minimum possible time for commercial consumption. However, production of sanitizers required a formal licence, because the manufacturing process of this product involves ethanol, which is also used to make alcoholic drinks.

A huge quantity, approximately 653,443 tons a year is exported to other countries, which should be stopped temporarily to meet medical requirement of tackling coronavirus pandemic.

The PCMA appreciated that on the directives of the federal government, the city administration of Islamabad had issued an NOC on the basis of emergency, to an institution to make hand sanitizers for consumption of the public in Islamabad. The PCMA suggested similar permission for the members across the country.

Further, the PCMA also suggested the government to put a temporary ban on export of ethanol and allow the PCMA members to manufacture sanitizers exempting the condition of licence temporarily to fight the challenge of coronavirus. The PCMA is ready to take responsibility of monitoring the process of manufacturing sanitizers by ensuring that usage of ethanol is restricted to production of sanitizers only.