The first phase of capacity building component initiated by World Bank’s Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) in marble sector has achieved maximum goals in Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA).
However, progress of this component in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) remained slow due to lack of administration and other factors. Talking to Daily Times, WB MDTF project consultant Muhammad Tariq said the $63 million project was heading in right direction, adding that other components of the project include economic stability, institutional development, training of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) etc.
Around 300 local SMEs have been trained and streamlined for getting better output while modernisation of machineries and equipment were undertaken in other parts of the country, namely Balochistan and FATA, he added.
Betterment in marble products especially white marble in FATA is an example of clean output of the project, he said, adding that work under other components of the project in Karachi, Lahore and parts of Balochistan were also undertaken.
“We achieve better results in term of quality improvement and better utilization of funds for the progression of the sector,” Tariq said. “The second phase of the project would resume in January 2017 and would be completed in three years period. WB fund requires detailed prospects of the marble sector in FATA in order to facilitate the mining and end product industry.”
All Pakistan Marble Mining Processing Industry and Exports Association (APMMPIEA) Chairman Sanaullah Khan, while appreciating the efforts of WB in development of marble sector, advised owners of marble mining units and factories in Bajaur, Khyber Agency and Mulagori to speed up efforts for development and prosperity of their businesses.
He said markets in Afghanistan, Middle East, China were easily approachable if we would improve our industry on better disciplines and pick up our quality. “But at the movement due to unrest in Afghanistan, our exports have declined,” he added.
He stressed upon FATA SMEs, Economic Revitalisation of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and FATA (ERKF) project staff, officers of FATA secretariat and marble sector expert to work in close liaison in order to observe the best practices, so that they become aware of best way of processing marble and may implement the same practices in their units. Khan said there was unmatched variety of marble, which was present from KP to Karachi.
He said introduction of latest technology in the sector would bring great changes and positive results, as Pakistan marble could be projected further in international market. The technology would greatly help marble mining at the site and to aid in squared blocks extraction, sizing and cutting the slabs of marble, he added.
He highlighted the shortcomings that they witnessed regarding the processing and projecting the finished products in the international market. Ministry of Industries and Production and Mineral Department of Balochistan should work together for better results, he advised.
Khan said around 1,400 stone mines are operational and over 2,200 processing units are producing value added products in the country, adding that the mining and quarry sector contributes nearly 0.6 percent to Gross Domestic Products with a value addition of more than Rs 17 billion. “Our exports have been stagnant to around $54 million annually and there was need to equip us with latest technology and expertise,” he concluded.