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Thursday, May 23, 2024

PM Imran Khan to perform ground-breaking of first CPEC linked ‘Special Economic Zone’

Ground breaking of Allama Iqbal Industrial City in Faisalabad Special Economic Zone is an important break through for Punjab and Pakistan. This mega project is linked with CPEC Economic Zones and Chinese diplomats had been quietly complaining that Pakistani institutions and businesses are not geared to benefit from "Industrial Relocation" which China is offering. FIEDMC, a public private initiative of Punjab Government since 2004, has thus proved its management potential by being the first entity to bring a CPEC linked Industrial Zone to the stage of take off.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, on 3rd January, will perform ground-breaking ceremony of the “Allama Iqbal Industrial City” (AIIC), a state of the art mega project, being developed as part of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) of Faisalabad. This is first CPEC linked Economic Zone that is being operationalized out of the nine zones that were conceived. Business community, in Punjab, led by FIEDMC (Faisalabad Industrial & Economic Development Company) has thus taken lead over similar initiatives being planned in KP and Sindh.

FIEDMC came into existence to benefit from Public Private Partnership (PPP) in 2004 when the idea of Special Economic Zones was first conceived by Jehangir Khan Tareen when he was a minister with the PMLQ government in Punjab. FIEDMC, as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) Entity was established by Govt. of the Punjab and formally registered u/s 42 of company’s ordinance 1984 with aim to promote economic development of Pakistan through the establishment of specialized industrial estates.

Tareen being a successful businessman himself understood the importance of incentives and facilitation through policy measures and infrastructure at one place. FIEDMC has grown into a big business idea since then. It first launched “Value Added City (VATC)” in 2007, then added Faisalabad Industrial City (M3 Industrial City) and has now more than 7000 acres of land under industrial development. Allama Iqbal Industrial City will be its third project with more than 3000 acres of land being developed.

Read more: Private Sector is committed to facilitate the Progress of CPEC

PM Khan will be accompanied by his key cabinet members that may include Razzaq Dawood, Commerce minister, Asad Umar, Minister Economic Planning, Zubair Gillani, Chairman Board of Investments and Jehangir Khan Tareen, secretary general of PTI and someone who is credited with the concept of Special Economic Zones in Punjab. Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan, Yao Jing, will be coming at the ground breaking and some Chinese corporate executives will be present.

FIEDMC Chairman explains

FIEDMC Chairman Mian Kashif Ashfaq, is very appreciative of the help his organization has received from both the Federal Govt and Punjab government. While talking to media he said: “Trade and investment are an important pillar of the government’s foreign policy, there is a positive sentiment among international community towards the country’s economy, which needs to be tapped and these special economic zones are playing an important role”.

Mian Kashif is also thankful to the PM for his directions that expedited the structural and logistic support from federal government departments. He explains, while talking to GVS, that “the speed at which gas, electricity and other facilities have been provided to this large industrial estate would not have been possible without continuous support and interest of the federal government from the very top”

Highlighting the FIEDMC development projects, Mian Kashif said that around Rs. 357 billion foreign and local investment would be injected in various projects, which clearly indicates that investors have complete confidence in the present regime. Around 15-20 Chinese companies are already invested in the Faisalabad Industrial City (M3) and four Chinese companies have expressed interest in Allama Iqbal Industrial City so far. A total of 12 national and international companies have completed 100% signing of MOUs with the new Industrial City.

Read more: CPEC to improve Pakistan’s Welfare: Asad Umer

Links with CPEC: Industrial Relocation from China?

First phase of CPEC, 2014 – 2017, was focused on energy projects and second phase was to move ahead with industrial development and production with view towards exports, job creation and skill development. An idea of “Industrial Relocation” from China’s maturing areas and sectors was in the background. Nine Special Economic Zones (SEZz) were thus conceived as part of the second phase of CPEC from 2016 onwards. These are as under:

  • Rashakai Economic Zone , M-1, Nowshera, KP
  • China Special Economic Zone Dhabeji, Karachi, Sindh
  • Bostan Industrial Zone
  • Allama Iqbal Industrial City (M3), Faisalabad, Punjab
  • ICT Model Industrial Zone, Islamabad
  • Industrial Park, Pakistan Steel Mills Land at Port Qasim near Karachi
  • Special Economic Zone at Mirpur, AJK
  • Mohmand Marble City
  • Moqpondass SEZ Gilgit-Baltistan

development projects under FIEDMC, once fully operationalized are likely to create 250,000 jobs, these will add to pool of skilled work force and to prepare Pakistani youth for employment opportunities within the national and regional markets

So far the Allama Iqbal Industrial City, being developed by FIEDMC has become the first such zone to reach the stage of ground-breaking. This is an important breakthrough on part of FIEDMC because Chinese diplomats, government officials and corporate executives were quietly complaining to government in Islamabad that Pakistani institutions and businesses are not geared to benefit from large initiatives. At core is the idea of “industrial relocation” from China to key centres in Pakistan.

Given PM Khan’s deep interest in the subject this ground-breaking of Allama Iqbal Industrial City will increase pressure on the managements of the other zones. Especially important in this respect will be Rashakai Economic Zone (M-1, Nowshera, KP) and China Special Economic Zone Dhabeji, Karachi, Sindh.

Allama Iqbal Industrial City: Strategic Location

Allama Iqbal Industrial City had been planned over an area of more than 3000 acres, is strategically located on Motorway M-4 near Sahianwala Interchange, Faisalabad. This ground breaking has seen lots of institutional pedal work that includes acquisition of land from private parties, due diligence in obtaining titles and clearing legal issues, signing contracts with interested parties, contractors and supporting departments. Boundary walls, main boulevard, entrance gate are under construction and would be completed within six months. Internal roads are being developed. Punjab government has almost developed the outer access roads.

Mian Kashif, while talking to GVS explained that “development projects under FIEDMC, once fully operationalized are likely to create 250,000 jobs, these will add to pool of skilled work force and to prepare Pakistani youth for employment opportunities within the national and regional markets”. Mian Kashif is an accomplished businessman of Punjab. He is CEO of ChenOne group that is a major exporter of textiles and made ups to GCC countries.

Mian Kashif adds that Punjab CM Usman Buzdar and Punjab Minister for Industries Mian Aslam Iqbal had been very supportive and directed all the departments to help expedite timely completion by fully ensuring provision of basic infrastructure. Mian Aslam Iqbal is Punjab’s Minister for Industries and had been pushing hard for early ground-breaking. As mentioned above, access roads are being built and finalized by the Punjab government.

FIEDMC’s Chief Operating Officer Aamer Saleemi had been assigned special task of coordinating with all the provincial and federal departments to help with the initiation of this mega project. GVS has learnt that Faisalabad Commissioner Ishrat Ali had set up a special monitoring cell at his office to support FIEDMC team and to ensure strict compliance of the PM and the CM directives regarding provision of infrastructure on time.