LAHORE - The meat processing units in Punjab, which exports meat of more than $2 billion annually, are going to install biogas power plants with investment of over Rs80 million each if government shares at least 50 per cent cost, as prolonged electricity breakdowns have crippled their production even in winter season. 

This was stated by Nasib Ahmad Saifi, Chairman Saifi Group of Companies and Chairman Standing Committee on Halal Meat Export, LCCI. He said that long-hour severe power cuts have already spoiled the investment scenario in Punjab while existing meat processing industrial units have curtailed their production by at least 50 per cent as they cannot compete with the international market if they operate on electricity produced through diesel generators. He said that loadshedding and shortage of gas have badly hit the halal meat sector and owners of slaughter houses have to arrange their own fuel. A Germen company is willing to provide Pakistan’s halal meat sector 0.5 megawatts of electricity through compression of biogas with the use of latest technology.

Saifi suggested that the government should contribute 50 percent—i.e., Rs 40 million of the total expenses of Rs80 million for availing the German offer.  This project cannot only provide electricity and gas to factories for the next 25 years but also increase halal meat exports 2-3 times.  Saifi said the private sector was engine of the growth and in the developed countries it was facilitated to the maximum but in Pakistan circumstances were quite the other way round. He warned the government of massive lay-offs and industrial closures if it failed to immediately stop power outages.

Saifi said the meat processing industry needed continuous supply of electricity to keep the units operational and to complete the export orders well within the given timeframe but only because of the shortage of electricity the exports were not up to the mark. He said Pakistan had already lost a number of global markets and the new power cuts would further aggravate the situation. Sharing various proposals Saifi said the need of time was to promote industry especially the manufacturing units for reduction in unemployment rate and better economy. “Instead of compensating manufacturers and giving them subsidies, the government is levying heavy taxes. Even Quarantine Department was taking Rs 120 for beef carcass and Rs 20 for mutton carcass but now they are taking almost double charges,” he added.  LCCI Standing Committee Chairman also demanded that the government should provide interest-free loans to meat exporters for 20 years because they did not want business with involvement of interest.  Talking about live animals smuggling, Saifi observed that without stoppage of livestock smuggling, which was one of the most important causes of increase in prices, issues faced by that sector could not be resolved. He also said that overseas Pakistanis should be encouraged by the government and abattoir owners for investment in livestock and dairy development so that the Halal meat and milk products could be available and exported in huge quantity and at economic rates.  Talking about new markets for Pakistan’s Halal meat, he said the commercial officers appointed abroad must play their role to introduce Halal food markets in new countries specially Turkey, Central Asia, Iran, Iraq, Lebnan, Egypt, Marrakech, etc.

­ Transaction of trade in halal foods is huge, but Pakistan’s share in it is negligible. Nasib Saifi believed that the government should focus on export of halal food, especially halal meat. He said that instead of compensating manufacturers and giving them subsidies, the government is levying heavy taxes.  Saifi said that parking facility must be provided at airports, and in case of delays in flights AC units of vehicles should be switched on. All international airports should have cold stores.