Published: July 02, 2014
KARACHI: A $2 million Vapour Heat Treatment (VHT) plant, imported by the previous management of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) from Japan in August 2013, was found dumped at the warehouse backyard of Expo Centre Karachi in May 2014 after clearance from the port.
Soon after arrival of the VHT plant at Expo Centre, fruit exporters had requested the TDAP to assign management and operation of this plant. However, to date their requests have not been responded.
“The installation of a commercial VHT plant is of crucial importance for the enhancement of exports. However, the actions taken so far by the TDAP in this context have not been encouraging and been restricted to lip service only,” said All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association co-chairman Waheed Ahmed on Tuesday.
“The TDAP had been promising for the installation of the plant since 2012 but the discrepancy in its desire and action towards its fulfillment is too obvious to be commented upon. To be honest, it has not been given the due importance it deserves,” he said.
He recalled that the exporters were wrongly informed on various occasions by the TDAP that the imported commercial VHT plant had been parked at the Karachi Port and ‘it was very difficult to clear it due to very high customs charges’.
He added that exporters were surprised to know that the plant was imported in August 2013 and was dumped in the Expo Centre, Karachi in May 2014. It clearly indicates that the plant had been released from the port, contrary to what was being briefed to the exporters.
“Had this plant been installed on time as was promised, the export of mangoes to a high value Japanese market could have been ensured leading to generation of foreign exchange,” Waheed said.
The timely installation of this plant should have also resolved the current crisis of a possible ban on import of mangoes from Pakistan by the EU due to presence of fruit flies. “This plant fulfilled the requirement of ‘processed mangoes’ through vapour heat treatment,” he explained.
Pakistan’s mango exports are already facing a serious threat of ban to European countries after interception of infected mango consignments to the UK recently.
Meanwhile, a TDAP official said that the Authority has sent various options to the Ministry of Commerce for running of the VHT plant including one on public-private partnership basis.
He further said that growers want the VHT plant near farms whereas traders prefer it in city.
However as far as delay in installation of a required facility is concerned both traders and growers were critical and urged to make it functional first and decide other details later. They said the Export Development Fund (EDF) is used to import the said plant but for the past one year it has been gathering dust.
“It is criminal and the department concerned should initiate inquiry in VHT plant issue”.
Sources said heavy duties and demurrage must have been paid on VHT plant.
According to an insider in TDAP, the authority delayed picking up the plant from the port and had to pay over Rs30m in demurrage to get clearance from the port. He disclosed that the value of the plant was $1.1m but it was purchased at a cost of over $2m.
Published in Dawn, July 2nd, 2014