GSE: Doing Better [Archives:1997/41/Business & Economy]

October 13 1997

The General Salt Establishment (GSE) was established, in cooperation with China, in 1970 with a capital of $15 million and a production capacity of 120,000 tons. The GSE’s revenue during 1996 was YR 65 million. The revenue for this year is expected to touch YR 100 million. The company had suffered from a long period of economic stagnation, but is now starting to make big profits. Ridhwan Al-Saqqaf of Yemen Times, Aden Office, met the GSE board chief, Mr. Abdulrahman Hassan, and filed this interview.
Q: What are the GSE’s current capabilities? A: The GSE’s facilities are quite modest. The machinery are not complicated. The raw material – sea water – is readily available. The pumps and other essential equipment have, however, become quite old and in need of replacement.
Q: How is the salt extracted? A: The are more than 70 basins in which sea water – with 3.5% salinity – is pumped by two 1,350-cub.m/sec pumps, working alternately. The sea salt produced by the GSE goes through 3 stages of production. First comes the stage of concentration in which water is moved through special ducts to the basins where it circulates in an area of 600 hectares. Concentration comes next where water is exposed to the sun until its salinity reaches 25%. Crystallization takes place at the third stage. Dry salt is then transferred by trucks to a special platform where it is manually packed into 1, 20, and 50-kg packages.
Q: What is the GSE’s production capacity? A: The GSE production capacity fluctuates. Last year, we produced 58,000 tons – our highest since 1990. We expect this year’s production to reach 70,000 tons. This is all done without outside help. When I first took over, the GSE had a financial deficit. We have been able to pay all the GSE debts and achieve a profit of YR 65 million in 1996. God willing, this year’s profits will be YR 100 million – the highest since its establishment.
Q: How is the salt marketed? A: The GSE has agents in all governorates of the Republic. We also receive export orders from some neighboring countries.
Q: How do you classify the quality of the salt produced by GSE? A: It is a high-quality pure sea salt with no additives. Our product has won an international prize at a conference held in Paris where they highly commended its quality.
Q: A ministerial decree has been taken to make salt manufacturers add iodine to their product. Are you doing this? A: Yes, we are the first to add iodine to our product. We started immediately after the decree was published. We did not wait until October, the deadline permitted by the decree.
Q: What difficulties does the GSE face ? A: Apart from the old equipment which are well past their operational age, the GSE does not have any problems.
Q: What are your future plans? A: We have plenty of ambitious plans which we try hard to achieve. We aim to get new equipment to enable us to increase the GSE production capacity. We also plan to increase our export level.