Duty-free machinery imports to modernise marble sector, sought

The Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) has urged the government to address key issues of the marble sector to harness its actual potential for improving the economy, saying the sector has potential of billions of dollars of exports.

ICCI President Muhammad Shakeel Munir expressed these views after administering oath to the newly-elected office-bearers of All Pakistan Marble Industries Association (APMIA) as chief guest on Saturday.

He said that Pakistan has vast reserves of marble and granite, but due to the lack of modern technology and machinery, the country cannot harness its true potential for economic development. He said that extraction of marble and granite by non-mechanised methods is wasting almost 70% of the precious stone and stressed that the government should allow duty free import of marble sector technology & machinery to help this sector produce value-added marble products and boost exports.

He said that the high electricity tariff for the marble sector is affecting its growth and urged that the government should either provide subsidies on electricity or provide tax exemptions on electricity bills of the marble industry. He said that the ocean freight cost for marble exporters has increased manifold and the government should provide volume-based freight subsidy or rebate to marble exporters to ease their problems.

He said that the government should also provide financial support to marble exporters for participation in international trade fairs which would significantly improve national exports. He said that marble products should be included in the preferential trade agreements.

He said that every investor should be given the legal right of quarry as at present the quarries are leased to those who do not work themselves, rather they give quarries on contract to investors. Giving legal rights to investors would yield more beneficial results for this sector.

Shakeel congratulated the newly elected office-bearers of All Pakistan Marble Industries Association and hoped that they would play an effective role in the development of the marble sector. He assured that the ICCI would extend all possible cooperation to the association in its efforts to resolve the key issues of the marble sector business community.

Shabbir Ahmed, Sattar Hussain Shah, Farooq Hameed Bhatti and Jamshed Khan Amazai were sworn in as chairman, senior vice chairman, vice chairman (north) and vice chairman (south), respectively, of All Pakistan Marble Industries Association for the year 2021-22. All the candidates were elected unopposed