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Port Qasim Authority’s (PQA) cargo-handling revenues, in terms of royalty payments, reached $10 million for the first half of this fiscal year, mainly on a boost in coal-handling business, officials said on Tuesday. During last fiscal year ended June 30, 2019, the seaport operator had earned $19.4 million in terms of royalty payments on coal handling at Pakistan International Bulk Terminal (PIBT).

 “During FY2018-19, we successfully handled 8.55 million tons of cargo against 2.74 million tons in 2017-18 through various vessels with positive contribution margins depicting a year-on-year volume growth of 212 percent,” said Sharique Azim Siddiqui, chief executive PQA, in a statement.

Siddiqui said the PIBT, in addition to the royalty payments, had contributed Rs983 million to the national economy in 2018-19 in lieu of income tax, sales tax and other government levies.

“In the first six months of the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019, the quantity of coal handled at the terminal has increased 11 percent year-on-year from 3.97 to 4.41 million tons,” said Siddiqui, adding that PIBT was focusing on strategies to bring more efficiency to its operations and provide unparalleled services to customers.

It is pertinent to mention that in 2007, the PQA had invited Expression of Interest (EOI) from International and Pakistani firms/consortia to establish coal and clinker/cement terminal at the designated site on 30 years’ BOT (build-operate-and-transfer) basis, without PQA/Government of Pakistan funding and throughput guarantee.

All in all, six firms/consortia showed interest in the project and submitted EOIs and two of them ultimately submitted proposals. NESPAK carried out detailed evaluation/comparison of the said proposals and the company was selected for being the most responsive to PQA guidelines.

On the finalisation of negotiations of the Implementation Agreement (IA), the PQA board in February 2010 endorsed the IA which was approved by the government, Economic Coordination Committee of the cabinet, Ministry of Law, Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Production and Development, Board of Investment, Sindh Environmental Protection Agency, Ministry of Defence, and Ministry of Finance.

Hence, the PIBT as the first state-of-the-art and fully mechanised bulk handling facility at Port Qasim for coal, clinker, and cement cargo with an investment of $300 million became fully operational in mid 2017.

In June 2018, the Supreme Court had refrained the handling of all the ships carrying imported coal to Pakistan at Karachi Port Trust considering the environmental challenges associated with handling of coal there and prevalence of unfavorable health conditions for the citizens of Karachi.

And the Supreme Court later also ordered the government to shift all the coal imports to PIBT, the first handling facility to comply with World Bank’s standards of environment pollution control.