Pakistan's marble sector declining due to lack of attention

ISLAMABAD: Despite massive export potential with an estimated 30 billion-ton reserve of dimensional stones, the marble and granite industry of Pakistan is deteriorating mainly due to lack of recognition and interest by the government.

This was stated by speakers during a roundtable meeting titled ‘Reform priorities for marble and granite sector in Pakistan’, organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on Thursday.

Speakers stressed that the sector would provide countless opportunities for investment and employment generation with promising growth if due attention was paid with desired support.

Pakistan Stone Development Company (PASDEC) Chairperson Shamamatul Amber Arbab emphasised that importance of marble and granite sector in terms of substantial economic value could not be ignored.

“While the sector has facilitated on taxation and regulatory front, the industry should also take care of its labour safety by adopting the international safety standard,” she said.

She further underlined that consumption of local stones including marble and granite in public sectors projects should be encouraged for support and development of the local industry.

Arbab urged the need for more consultations with public and private stakeholders where consensus-based recommendations could be suggested to the government for forthcoming national industrial policy.

Speaking on the occasion, SDPI Joint Executive Director Dr Vaqar Ahmed pointed out that Pakistan’s marble and granite sectors struggled to flourish as deposits were still not extracted owing to lack of modern technology and quarrying facilities.

“The use of explosives as a method to extract deposits poses environmental threats and leads to wastage of precious reserves,” he said, adding that policy reforms were required to encourage this sector.

He said mobilising local and foreign investment in this sector should be a priority of the government given the export potential.

“Removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers is desired to import modern technologies,” he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 13th, 2019.

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