Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline is bound to bring an industrial revolution in Pakistan, said Iranian Ambassador to Pakistan Mashallah Shakeri on Friday. He said this while speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry, highlighting the advantages of the IP gas pipeline project, something that the US is opposing.
Majority industries in the country face three to four day gas outage a week, forcing many to shut down businesses as export orders can’t be met. Around 321 units have industrial units have been shut down alone in Balochistan and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa during fiscal 2010. The country’s fertiliser industry is also facing an acute shortage of gas which is leading to increased imports of Urea. This has as two-fold impact on the economy. It is costing the government billions in the form of subsidy, and is also negatively impacting the agriculture sector which is the backbone of the economy.
The Iranian ambassador said that adequate supply of gas could be the catalyst for kick-starting economic growth in Pakistan.
The government is already bearing Rs43 billion as the cost of subsidy on imported urea and this is expected to go up to Rs125 billion over the next two years of local gas supply is not enhanced or an alternate is not found.
The Iranian ambassador said that the amount of gas to be supplied to Pakistan through the pipeline will be enough to meet the country’s demand.
The government will also save on imports of furnace oil which is currently being used in increased quantities to fuel power generation because of the shortage of gas.
The Iranian ambassador while speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) on Friday said that the Pakistan-Iran gas pipeline will promote people-to-people contact, tourism and economy of both nations.
Talking about Pak-Iran trade relations, the ambassador said that Pakistani businessmen should avail Iranian expertise for enhancing economic cooperation amongst the two business communities. The ambassador said that exchange of business delegations could pave way for exploring areas of common interest. Iran would provide technical and all other kinds of assistance to Pakistan to overcome energy crisis, he added.
LCCI President Irfan Qaiser Sheikh gave a number of proposals as to how both the two countries could enhance their bilateral trade and the volume of two-way business.
Shakeri expressed hope that industrial exchange programme would help promote trade relations. Speaking on the occasion, the LCCI President while congratulating the Iranian ambassador for taking Pakistan-Iran relations to new heights, said that the business communities of both countries have yet to realize their full potential. Both the countries have large domestic markets and unique geo-strategic competitive advantage.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2011.