Pakistan govt gives up import of purpose-built taxis

ISLAMABAD — The Pakistan government has "given up" the idea to import duty and tax free 300 purpose built taxis as it did not get even a single offer and sponsors of British Black Cabs put on hold their investment plans.

By From A Correspondent

Published: Sat 19 Aug 2006, 9:04 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 2:18 PM

"We did not receive any application by the deadline. So, the facility of duty free import (of 300 cabs) will no more be available to anybody," said a senior official of the Ministry of Industries and Production.

Asked about the future of Prime Transport Limited's project for import and manufacturing of Black Cabs, he said it should better be asked to the investor. "We had offered a facility but perhaps nobody is interested", he added.

The official said the government would welcome any investment project or setting up of a plant for car manufacturing but the duty free import of taxis will no more be there.

Interestingly, the government had already allocated 400 acres of land in Karachi in addition to large plots for taxi stands at all domestic and international airports to Prime Transport Limited (PTL) even before it advertised import of zero rated cabs.

In a related development, a PTL official said that "his company is seriously reconsidering the whole project but an expenditure of $3-4 million we have already made is keeping us tied up". PTL's foreign partner — LTI Vehicles of UK — has on the other hand confirmed that its "Black Cab is the only purpose built taxi in the world" and it has not authorised any other company to import or assemble/manufacture this vehicle in Pakistan except PTL.

In a letter to the Ministry of Privatisation and Investment on May 31, the company has threatened to "contest unauthorised import/assembly of manufacture of Black Cab by any company other than PTL". He said his project involved a total investment of $850 million including 45 per cent equity put together by LTI of UK and a number of other PTL shareholders, mostly his family members. Rest of 55 per cent funding comes from foreign banks.

He agreed that the government messed up the whole affair but declined to comment on tender process or as to why he did not formally respond to the tender. About his company's financial strength, he said his family had franchise food chains in the US but declined further details. The PTL claims on its website that it has already been allowed duty and tax free import of 300 CBUs of black cabs from the UK and then manufacturing of 6000 cabs per annum at a specifically created industrial zone at Dhabeji, about 19 kilometres from Port Qasim, Karachi.

None of the existing car manufacturers hold even 100 acres of land. Maximum engine capacity of the existing radio in Pakistan cabs is 2.0 litre compared with 2.4 litre minimum engine requirement of black cabs.

The PTL website claims that on the directives of the President of Pakistan, Corps Commander Lahore Shafatullah Shah has also provided a spacious piece of land at Defence Officers Housing Authority, Lahore and agreed to ban all other cabs and rickshaws in all areas of the DHA once the Black Cabs started operations.

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