Petrochemicals, path to mega industrialization of Pakistan

By Staff Reporter | Pakistan Observer Mar 18, 2022

Speakers while addressing Pakistan’s first-ever Petrochemical symposium highlighted the potential of the sector and urged the government to announce a well thought out and long-term and transparent policy to attract and utilize the mega investment in the Petrochemical sector.

This will also go in line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision of creating job opportunities and would provide imports substitution to help save foreign reserves, they said.

Addressing the seminar, Federal Minister for Finance & Revenue Shaukat Tarin said, ‘’In 1960s, Pakistan was among the fastest growing economies. Unfortunately massive nationalization and deindustrialization followed by Pakistan’s involvement in Afghanistan & Russia’s war hampered the country. Pakistan suffered another setback when it joined the US-led war on terror. These steps jolted the economy and halted its progress ’’

The Petrochemical Symposium was hosted by Corporate Pakistan Group. ACCA was the Co-host. Symposium is supported by the Board of Investment, Pakistan, OICCI, Pakistan Business Council, PCMA.

Experts and the government functionaries while speaking at the inaugural session of the symposium titled ‘Petrochemicals a game changer’ spoke at length about the economy of Pakistan and how it benefited through large scale industrialization.

Tarin further said from a period 2008 to 2018, structural reforms required to boost the economy were not taken. Pakistan’s tax to GDP ratio, its saving ratio and its balance in exports and imports are unsatisfactory. Pakistan needs sustainable development and to achieve this, we need to remove the imbalances in our economy. China intends to transfer its industry and we are facilitating them by providing them incentives in setting up industries at Special Economic Zones.

Pakistan’s Information Technology Section which is 47pc at the moment is growing at the rate of 74pc this year. Pakistan’ SME sector needs facilitation and access to finances. The surplus electricity is also a burden on the economy, said Tarin.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Commerce & Investment Abdul Razak Dawood said ‘’Pakistan needs to set up industries which facilitate the reduction of imports. Pakistan should not rely on textile exports only as it needs to find an alternate export sector to progress. Textile sector exports are growing at 35% whereas exports of IT sector are increasing at 74%. ‘’

Advisor to Prime Minister Mr. Dawood further said ‘Petro-Chemical and steel sector are mother of all industries. We have to structure tariff, duties and taxes for setting up a progressive and successful petrochemical industry.

Muhammad Azfar Ahsan, Chairman Board Of investment said ‘Petroleum policy of Pakistan is in its final stages. Implementation of this policy will bring investment of US $ 3 billion in the near future. Only by setting up the Naphta cracker plant can we get import substitution to the tune of US $ 800 million and create 50,000 direct & indirect jobs. “

Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on CPEC Affairs Khalid Mansoor, while speaking at the symposium said ‘’ Pakistan imports approximately US $ 3 billion petrochemical products and their demand is increasing between 5% to 7%. Pakistan needs US $ 4 billion to set up a petrochemical plant. He revealed that China’s investors are also interested in making investments in Pakistan’s PetroChemical sector. Mr. Mansoor in his concluding remark highlighted that Pakistan needs industrialization for progress. We have to devise a strategy to reduce imports and increase exports. This will help in job creation at a massive level.

Mr. Ghias Khan, President OICCI while expressing his views said ‘’ Pakistan and Bangladesh are the only two countries of the region devoid of any petrochemical industry. Plastic industry is vital as plastic is used in various sectors including automobiles, health, telecom etc. The consumption of petrochemical products in Pakistan reached a level where we require to set up a huge Petrochemical plant. To achieve this goal, we need the same incentives and protection which are provided to the textile sector. Pakistan needs to develop long term incentive based Petrochemical policy’’

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