In a review meeting on the development work of Quaid e Azam Business Park (QABP) and Bhalwal Industrial estate, Secretary Industries and Commerce Wasif Khurshid directed SNGPL and FESCO to resolve PIEDMC’s issues linked to utility connections as soon as possible. Chairman PIEDMC Syed Nabeel Hashmi briefed the meeting about the present scenario and the hurdles that PIEDMC has been facing concerning the utility connections at both QABP and Bhalwal Industrial Estate. He requested the government to issue the funds needed for the completion of the Sui Gas Project in QABP and the electricity project in Bhalwal Industrial Estate. CEO Javaid Ilyas, COO Ali Moazam Syed, CFO Asif ur Rehman and officers of district government Sheikhupura, FESCO and Sui Gas also participated in the meeting.
PIEDMC- A successful Public-Private Partnership
In March 2020, Prime Minister Imran Khan approved the establishment of 10 Special Economic Zones (SEZ’s) in the 4 provinces, 4 out of which have been assigned to PIEDMC. PIEMDC is an autonomous, not-for-profit entity owned by the Government of Punjab. It is run by a Board of Directors (BOD) comprising private sector industrialists and ex-officio members. It is thus a successful example of Public-Private Partnership. With a management experience of over 700 years, it is responsible for transforming Punjab’s industrial landscape. There is no doubt that for Pakistan to emerge as a prosperous middle-income country by 2030, it needs to make industrialization its top priority. PIEDMC being the brainchild of Jehangir Khan Tareen, when he was Advisor for Special Initiatives to CM Punjab (Pervaiz Illahi) in early 2003, was set up with a vision to promote industrialization across the province of Punjab. Four of the PIEDMC’S industrial Estates have already been declared as SEZs namely Quaid- e-Azam Business Park, Rahim Yar Khan Industrial Estate, Bhalwal Industrial Estate, Vehari Industrial Estate. Soon to be launched, Bahawalpur Industrial Estate is also being declared as an SEZ (SEZ application approved by Special Economic Zone Authority Punjab & forwarded to BOI, Pakistan for final approval).
Importance of SEZ’s in Attracting Investment
Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are being seen as the fastest route to achieving industrial development and creating job opportunities. With a sizeable proportion of its population living below the poverty line, and with one of the world’s youngest population, Pakistan needs a thriving economy to create decent employment opportunities for its people. Prime Minister Imran Khan, therefore, is very keen on providing a favorable environment to the business community in order to stimulate economic activity in the country. Being a part of an SEZ, you get access to certain facilities that aren’t usually available to investors in the rest of the country. SEZs, in this regard, have the potential to kick-start economic development by attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) and technology. The current government is therefore, making efforts to introduce policies to promote business and industrial processes so that the confidence of the business community can be restored.
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Investors can be drawn through special financial incentives such as tax reliefs and tariff reductions, among other factors. Bangladesh’s Economic Zone Authority (BEZA) has set an FDI target of $9.6 billion by 2030 into SEZs; the country’s annual average FDI flows were $2.2 billion in 2015–2017, 15-20 percent of which was attracted by its eight Export Processing Zones. China saw a massive increase in FDI from its SEZs. However, for a SEZ to be fully functional, it needs to be provided with utilities like gas and electricity. Hence, the government has directed for provision of utilities in the newly developed industrial estates- QABP and Bhalwal Industrial Estate.
QABP and Bhalwal Industrial Estate Await Utility Connections
Since 2002, PIEDMC has launched nine industrial zones including the much talked about Sundar Industrial Estate (100% colonized), Multan Industrial Estate & Quaid-e-Azam Industrial Estates. Four of the PIEDMC’S industrial Estates have already been declared as SEZs namely Quaid- e-Azam Business Park, Rahim Yar Khan Industrial Estate, Bhalwal Industrial Estate, Vehari Industrial Estate.
Bhalwal Industrial Estate is located on a prime location just 15 km from M-2 Motorway between Salam & Bhera Interchange. It’s a mega project by PIEDMC, spread over 450 acres with the aim to spur economic growth in the Sargodha District. It has basically been established to cater to food processing units including juices, jams jellies and snacks, citrus grading, cold storage. Bhalwal is known for producing citrus fruits of different kinds and therefore, the naturally fertile land is going to assist the manufacturing companies in their production activities. This SEZ is going to offer all the advanced facilities that the manufacturers need to set up their processing units.
QABP, located near Sheikhupura is another landmark project by PIEDMC. This large industrial state, spread over 1536 acres of land once completed as per its envisaged master plan and business concept, can attract investments of around Rs 250 billion. This modern industrial state enjoys the status of a special economic zone (SEZ) and is said to have the capacity to generate two hundred and fifty thousand new jobs for skilled and unskilled workers. The Industries Department of the Punjab Government is especially keen on getting QABP completed as soon as possible to stimulate business and investments across Pakistan’s largest province.
However, for both these industrial estates to be fully operational, it is necessary that they are provided with the utility connections promptly. Now that the government has instructed both SNGPL and FESCO to cooperate with PIEDMC, it is hoped that this work would be completed soon.