The government is preparing regulations to develop Gwadar Port in line with Hong Kong and Dubai free ports, Federal Minister for Ports and Shipping Kamran Michael said.
Talking to the media before a meeting with the members of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI), he said the finance division was going to announce these regulations soon.
The government has already acquired 2,281 acres for free industrial zone, he said. In the first phase, 637 acres have been handed over to holding companies so that Chinese firms could start their projects in the zone.
Similarly, an airport of international standards would also be built in Gwadar, the minister added.
The Chinese companies have already started coming to Gwadar free industrial zone and the government would soon hold a conference of exporters and importers to work out the modalities and time frame for starting industrial activity, he said.
Responding to a question, the minister said three berths have been completed at Pakistan Deep Water Container Port (PDWCP) and a fourth one was expected to be completed by the port operator this month.
He said the port operator, which first agreed to inaugurate the PDWCP in May this year, has now requested for an extension up to July.
Contesting reports that the berths at Port Qasim were being privatised against which the port workers were currently agitating outside the Karachi Press Club (KPC), the minister said that the berths in question never belonged to the government because they were developed and owned by the private sector. He added that the earnings of Port Qasim, which were only Rs80-90 million a year in the past, have now soared to Rs2.5 billion.
He said Pakistan has despatched a copy of memorandum of understanding (MoU) to Iran for starting ferry service for the pilgrims and has been waiting for the reply. Iran has already given its consent for the ferry service.
The minister said he would be meeting Iranian ambassador on Friday for giving final shape to the service.
Mr Michael disagreed that a conveyer belt for coal at Port Qasim would pollute environment as it was covered.