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Oil tankers strike threatens food security in Pakistan

Islamabad: Pakistan Vanaspati Manufacturers Association (PVMA) on Thursday said violent strike by Edible Oil Tankers Association in Karachi is crippling industrial activities and pushing country towards food insecurity.

Tankers association has started a strike since fifteen days to press for increased upcountry freight which is unjustified, Acting Chairman PVMA Atif Ikram Sheikh said.Talking to business community at FPCCI Capital Office, he said that prices of edible oil are receding in the international market while situation is opposite in Pakistan owing to disrupted supply chain.

Chairman Media, PR and Diplomatic Affairs FPCCI Malik Sohail and others were also present on the occasion. Atif said that ninety-nine oil refining units have been closed due to non-availability of raw material which has left some 50 thousand directly employed people jobless while government is  losing revenue of Rs 600 million per day.

 

Atif Ikram Sheikh who is also Chairman Coordination, FPCCI said that the protests by oil tanker owners have turned violent on a number of occasions resulting in riots, shooting and burning of cargo-carrying tankers. So far, protesters have burnt six oil tankers with oil worth Rs 60 million to discourage other transporters, he said. Protest is a basic right but criminal activities should not be tolerated under any circumstances, he said adding that ghee industry is in grip of extortionists who are hell-bent to earn unjustified profits.

Sheikh said, “We are victim of blackmail, discrimination, pilferage of cargo, and unfair increase in freight rate.” Business community deserve protection as the situation may cloud prospects of industrial growth. Urging the authorities to take action to fix supply chain and prevent further damage to the industrial and economic activities, he said that the edible oil is the highest revenue generating sector outside petroleum therefore government should provide them security and try to settle the issue. Malik Sohail said that the sector which caters for local demand of 7000 tonnes per day and satisfies the need of Afghanistan needs attention before it is too late.

 

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