ISLAMABAD, June 23: The US Agency for International Development (USAID) is launching a project to identify bottlenecks and designing a strategic action plan to make Pakistan’s marble sector globally competitive.
In preparation for the project, USAID officials gathered stakeholders from the marble sector here on Friday for a joint consultative session aimed at identifying the action plan based on demand driven initiatives. Stakeholders participating in the session suggested initiatives which USAID could take to assist them.
“Through consultations with key stakeholders, we hope to facilitate the private sector in achieving further growth in the marble and granite industry in Pakistan,” said Fernando Cossich, USAID Regional Director for Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and FATA while speaking at the consultative session.
Pakistan is one of the main marble producing countries of the world with over 70 types of marble mined locally. Initial estimates indicate that over 300 billion tons of marble reserves exist across Pakistan. Globally, marble and granite exports during the year 2009-10 were $62 billion of which Pakistan’s contribution is a meager 0.096 percent.
Production and sales volumes are very low due to use of obsolete and old-fashioned technology resulting in high volume of wastage. This wastage is reportedly as high as 70 percent due to indiscriminate blasting, poor quality product, unskilled workforce, and largely unorganised markets.
The consultative sessions of marble stakeholders will facilitate them in launching joint initiatives, in collaboration with the USAID’s Firms Project, which will translate into improvements within the industry, increased exports, and international competitiveness through substantive value addition.
Highlighting the potential impact of improvement in the marble sector, William Patterson, USAID Economic Growth and Agriculture Office Director said, “Through analysing the current status of the marble value chain and strategic interventions, USAID seeks to partner with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and other organisations to decrease wastage, increase value addition, and create jobs.”
As part of its programme, USAID’s Firms Project plans to work closely with the private and government sector to help design and implement initiatives that will make Pakistan’s marble sector globally competitive.
“USAID is supporting the development of value chains as part of its overall economic growth strategy,” said USAID Ed Birgells, Regional Director based in Karachi. “We believe that the marble industry also has excellent potential to create jobs, incomes and export markets for Pakistan.”
Representatives from the Board of Investment (BOI), Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP), Pakistan Stone Development Company (Pasdec), Small and Medium Enterprises Development Authority (Smeda), private sector stakeholders, and officials from Pakistan and US Governments discussed the issues faced by the sector and suggested initiatives that USAID could take to assist them.