On Monday, Prime Minister Imran Khan said the economic activities generated by the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) would increase job opportunities for local skilled and unskilled labor.
He directed to provide utility services, including electricity and gas, to the SEZs on priority.
The prime minister was chairing the 7th meeting of the Board of Approvals for Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
The meeting was attended by federal ministers Dr. Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Muhammad Hammad Azhar and Senator Shibli Faraz, Advisor on Commerce Abdul Razaq Dawood, Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mehmood Khan, chief secretaries of Sindh and Balochistan, Board of Investment chairman, Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) chairman, Planning Commission deputy chairman, chief executive officers (CEOs) of Provincial Boards of Investments, Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI) president and senior officers, including Secretary BOI.
The Gilgit Baltistan chief minister and State Bank deputy governor joined the meeting via video link.
The prime minister stated that industrial development was vital for economic growth.
He emphasized that the government was committed to providing ease-of-doing-business to investors.
The meeting was apprised that there were 19 SEZs notified in the country.
The Board approved SEZ Zone Enterprise Admission and Sale / Lease of Plot Regulations 2020.
The meeting approved the launching of an online SEZ Management Information System, whereby the approvals process would be digitalized and streamlined.
It would also act as a one-window for investors and ensure transparency.
The SEZs Board also approved the award of the status of Sole Enterprise Special Economic Zones to Siddiqsons Tin Plate in Balochistan and Service Long March Tyre in Sind SEZs.
Why are SEZs important for Pakistan?
Ejaz Hussain and Muhammad Furqan Rao in their research paper titled China–Pakistan Economic Cooperation: The Case of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) write it is pertinent for Pakistan to revisit its economic policy for the country possesses certain infrastructural, demographic, and human resource potential that can play a pivotal role in shaping the socio-economic profile of the country in an unprecedented manner.
During the past four decades, Pakistan’s manufacturing sector registered an average annual rate of around 7% despite a slowdown in recent years. This is primarily as per the research paper due to the resilience of the Pakistani industries and entrepreneurs, which is crucial for sustained economic growth.
To achieve a stable annual growth rate, realize its natural and human resources’ full potential, improve upon its agriculture and manufacturing sector, and, overall, rise as a stable regional economy, Pakistan has already taken certain concrete measures.
In this respect, the launch in 2015 of the landmark project of coordination and cooperation between China and Pakistan, namely the China–Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), has emerged as an icon for fast-tracked industrial development and dissemination.
The new body has really come into action in the past couple of years.
Thus, utilizing CPEC, Pakistan aims to establish financially vibrant, socially visible, and potentially productive industries to initiate a new era of industrialization that includes high-end textiles, telecom, engineering, knowledge-based manufacturing, sea products, and sophisticated storage facilities for fruits and vegetables, jointly or separately with Chinese companies to be based in Special Economic Zones (SEZs).
SEZs in China the most successful model to date brought in relevant technologies required to boost local trade and commerce. The same model is being tried in Pakistan.
While embarking on the new phase of industrialization, Pakistan faces several issues that have so far restricted industries to realize their growth potential.
These include fixing low investment, dispersal of industries across the country, weak institutions, low-quality human resources, shallow tooling skills owing to lack of depth in vocational expertise, lack of modern technology, high business cost, brain-drain, low quality hard and soft infrastructure and so one. The information and technology that flows in from SEZs have the capability to transform Pakistan’s economic landscape.
Expectedly, the SEZs under CPEC offers a lifetime opportunity for Pakistani companies to work in tandem with their Chinese counterparts to develop export-oriented manufacturing industries while striving to overcome the above-mentioned issues with the assistance of the reformed public sector institutions.
The SEZs with new business models are likely to generate reasonable jobs, develop industrial and business infrastructures, and establish domestic value chains connected regionally and extra-regionally. Thus, the Special Economic Zones are expected to provide the much-needed impetus to stimulate economic activities.8
Moreover, given China’s extremely successful record in constructing and running several SEZs, Pakistan has the opportunity to capitalize on the Chinese experiences and, importantly, investment, human resources, and technology in establishing China-led industrial parks. The cooperation between the two nations has never been higher.
In this new phase of industrialization under China’s framework–Pakistan Economic Corridor, Pakistan is expected to have many opportunities to capitalize on. Nevertheless, the country’s leadership, both civil and the military, would also face multiple challenges at the policy and operational level.
To turn CPEC into a success story for bilateral economic confidence and, overall, for the positive projection of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the construction of Special Economic Zones, thus, assumes extraordinary significance.
Imran Khan: SEZ’s will have an online Management Information System
The Board Meeting chaired by Prime Minister Imran Khan also approved the launching of an online SEZ Management Information System whereby the approvals process will be digitalized and streamlined. It will also act as a one-window for investors and will ensure transparency.
The SEZ Board also approved the award of the status of Sole Enterprise Special Economic Zones to Siddiqsons Tin Plate in Balochistan and Service Long March Tyre in Sind SEZs.
The prime minister stated that SEZs’ economic activities would increase job opportunities for local skilled and unskilled labor.
The Premier directed to provide utility services, including electricity and gas, to the SEZs on priority.
GVS News Desk