ISLAMABAD: The government should focus on resolving problems facing the marble industry on a priority basis considering the country has great potential to improve exports by upgrading technology and value addition, said Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Muzzamil Hussain Sabri.
“Pakistan is the sixth largest extractor of marble and granite in the world and reserves of these stones are estimated at around 297 billion tons. However, despite huge deposits and long-term export potential, Pakistan merely has a two percent share in the global market of marble products, which is negligible,” he stated.
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He said that the marble industry is employing over 30,000 workers but due to several issues that include a chronic power crisis, outdated quarrying techniques, inconsistent supplies of raw materials and lack of value-addition among others are major obstacles that need to be addressed to make the industry sustainable for growth.
Sabri said that China, Italy and many other countries are purchasing raw marble products such as slabs and blocks from Pakistan and re-export them after value-addition around the world earning much better returns. He said that the government should cooperate with marble industrialists in value-addition of marble products that will help in enhancing marble exports significantly.
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He said with value addition and improved quality, Pakistan could promote exports of finished marble products to Saudi Arabia, Middle East, Russia, USA, Europe and many other countries.
ICCI Senior Vice President Muhammad Shakeel Munir and Vice President M. Ashfaq Hussain Chatha said that hundreds of processing units are employing local manufactured machinery and stressed that the government should provide necessary support in upgrading and modernising such machinery to meet international quality standards.
They said handling, cutting, storing and transportation facilities should also be improved to enhance exports of marble products. They said the current practices are causing a major loss of stones as the standard wastage of marble in the world is 45% while it is 85% in Pakistan.
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They emphasised that the government should facilitate the marble sector businessmen in adopting state-of-the-art mining technologies to avoid losses and achieve better quality finished products.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 16th, 2015.
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