$2m VHT plant dumped at Expo Centre
Authorities of the ex-management of the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) imported a Vapour Heat Treatment (VHT) plant of net worth of about $2 million. This plant has recently been found to be dumped in the backyard of the Expo Center in Karachi.
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.
All Pakistan Fruit and Vegetable Exporters, Importers and Merchants Association co-chairman Waheed Ahmed while discussing the importance of this plant said: “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”
“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.
The co-chairman also talked about the negligent behavior of TDAP shown towards the exporters with regard to the clearance of the VHT due to very high custom rates. He recalled that the exporters were wrongly informed on many 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 also put light on the fact that the VHT plant was imported in August 2013 and was dumped in the Expo Centre, Karachi in May 2014. This was clearly an indication 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 the VHT plant could have possibly contributed to resolving the current 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 under excessive pressure due to ban placed by 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.