Balochistan approves its first digital policy

Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Kamal approved the first digital policy for Balochistan on Monday for the year 2020-2021 in a meeting of the provincial cabinet

The aim of the 2020-2021 Balochistan digital policy is to provide e-governance, public access to digital services, and provision of cheap, standard, and high-speed internet facilities. Besides that, the promotion of Information Communication Technologies (ICT) companies in the province through digital capability, digital economy, software and IT parks are also a part of the plan.

A state-of-the-art centralized data center would also be established by the government.

A cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Jam Kamal Khan Alyani also approved a bill to amend rules framed under the Balochistan Tourist Guides Act, 2014, the Balochistan Vaccination Ordinance, 1958, and the Balochistan Education Council, 2021 draft bill with some changes.

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The meeting also decided to work out a policy for the prevention of infectious diseases in cattle, their protection, and proper breeding to pave the way for poultry production in the province of Balochistan.

It is important to mention that the provincial government approved funds to upgrade the security measures in Kalat. Moreover, a project to enhance and rehabilitate Lakhra to Kanki Bridge Awaran Road was also approved. The cabinet also agreed to compensate the victims of August 13, 2020 earthquake in Basima and Koregi. In addition to that, the formation of a joint subcommittee to overlook the areas affected by snowfall, droughts and floods has also been agreed upon.

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The cabinet was also briefed on the current situation of Reko Diq International Arbitration, Balochistan Mineral Exploration Company, and Balochistan Mineral Resources Limited by Secretary Minerals.

Balochistan’s First Investment Policy

An unparalleled investment policy has been introduced in Balochistan to capture investments in different spectrums of socio-economic development. Farman Zarkoon, the Chief Executive Officer of the Balochistan Board of Investment and Trade said on Monday that the new investment policy is one of the recent mandatory reforms aimed to attract venture capital from overseas and domestic companies.

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Balochistan now offers a sustainable ecosystem for the foreign and local investor pools to delegate their business operations at the infrastructure level, said Zarkoon. He also emphasized that the Gwadar Free Zone was an ideal location for establishing a business. He further revealed that this new investment policy exempts the payment of tax for 23 years. Moreover, associate channels and new businesses will receive 100% exemption from customs duties relating to operations and construction. Along with that, this policy would also provide a 99-year land lease, state-of-the-art offices, high-end infrastructure, ready to use warehouses, small industrial units, and flexible visa rules.

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A great many concessions have been made to accommodate assets in the free trade zone that include LNG terminals, restaurants, water desalination plants, recreational facilities and an oil city project spread over 8,000 acres of land. It is important to indicate that the investors would be able to access these facilities at their doorsteps.

The investor pool can also cash in on mid-level projects like the setting up of oil terminals, power generation units, container rails, supermarkets, warehouses and import industries. Tourism and hotel related projects can also be entertained at the highest level, stated Zarkoon.

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Balochistan- A promising future ahead

Balochistan has been the most strategically important province to Pakistan owing to the high concentration of natural resources- including coal, oil, copper, and gas reserves. It generates substantial revenue for the federal government and the only deep-sea port in Pakistan is located in Gwadar, Balochistan. For the longest time, this resource-rich province was neglected and the security remained precarious. However, the current government of the province is keen on getting things in order and is currently trying to attract foreign and local investment by formulating policies that can keep the law-and-order situation in control and also initiating a variety of development programs.

Gwadar is also set to become the future economic hub of not on Pakistan but the whole of South Asia. In 2015, China signed an agreement for the development and amendment of Gwadar port and in 2019, Gwadar Smart City’s masterplan was approved. This city is said to become the fulcrum of economic development in Pakistan in the future. This would not only create employment opportunities for the people of the province but would also uplift their living standards. All in all, the future looks promising for Balochistan.

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