QBP, Quaid-e-Azam Business Park, investments have surpassed the ‘Rs. One billion’ mark despite a sluggish economy. Almost all sectors of industry are taking a keen interest in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) being built near Sheikhupura. PM Imran Khan had done the soft launch on July 18th this year.
So far industrial plots, in QBP, have been acquired by corporate entities related to Textile, Pharmaceutical, Plastic, Janitorial Products, Garments and Auto-parts. Even the newly emerging Nutraceutical (cosmetics) industry and Cold Storage industries have shown interest in the Quaid-e-Azam Business Park (QBP).
As of now nine half-acre, eight one acre, three two-acre, and four, four-acre plots have been finalized, with 150 applications pending. These applications are being reviewed by the Allotment Committee of Punjab Industrial Estates Development & Management Company (PIEDMC) to see whether these qualify for setting up units in the Special Economic Zone (SEZ).
QBP: An Online Marketing Success?
While onsite sales offices, at the exact location of Quaid-e-Azam Business Park (QBP), have yet to start operations, delayed due to the Corona pandemic. PIEDMC teams managing sales have seen very successful in providing information and attracting interest through their online web-based sales operations.
PIEDMC site has provided not only the application forms but, it has placed valuable information in the way of “Frequently Asked Questions” which have been found useful in addressing concerns of the potential investors from across Pakistan and abroad. Expat Pakistani community is also taking an active interest in the possibility of setting up small industrial units in this SEZ. Here is a link to the PIEDMC site:
QBP Multipurpose Complex Customer Facilitation Centre
PIEDMC management team, under the leadership of its chairman, Syed Nabeel Hashmi, and CEO PIEDMC Javed Illyas is working to inaugurate a state of the art Customer Facilitation Centre at QBP, exact physical site. This Multi-Purpose Complex will be inaugurated by either the Chief Minister Punjab, Usman Buzdar or Minister of Industries, Mian Aslam Iqbal, near the end of September. The Customer Facilitation Centre will be a multi-storey structure housing facilitation teams that will support the industrial clients, through a “One Window Operation” throughout the construction and development phase.
PIEDMC still maintains a similar smaller facility at its Sunder Industrial Estate near Lahore. The purpose of these “one window operations” is to facilitate the industrial clients with all their needs of documentation, financial and regulatory information under one roof. Later these Customer Facilitation Centres will also help the clients with expansion, gas and electricity billings etc.
PIEDMC is a public-private partnership, and many of its board members are successful business leaders. It, therefore, understands the importance of facilitating the businesses and industrial investors with information through one window operations.
Industry’s interest in the QBP is more due to the size and scope of the project and the features it offers. Its Master plan shows a total spread of around 1900 acres – including a 200-acre labour colony which will house 30,000 people.
If QBP is developed as per its initial master plan, then the Industrial Area will take around 1300 acres (70% of land). Inside connecting roads and passages will take around 411 acres (around 22%), Parks will be spread on around 48 acres (3% of land), Amenities on 88 acres (around 5%) and other commercial areas will be on around 10 acres (0.5% of total land).
If 27-28 acres of the Bhamb village are also taken then QBP’s envisaged structures will be spread over around 1859 acres of land. It is thus bigger than Sundar Industrial Estate near Lahore. PIEDMC also developed Sundar in the early part of the Musharraf government, and it is considered one of the most successful Industrial Estates in Pakistan.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday at two separate meetings approved establishment of 10 special economic zones (SEZs) in the four provinces and privatisation of 33 state entities/lands during current Escal year.https://t.co/Iri3NXOj3T
— Voice of KP (@Voice_of_KP) March 5, 2020
QBP Soft launch by PM Imran Khan
Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan did the ‘soft’ launch of Quaid-e-Azam Business Park, in Lahore on Saturday, July 18th, 2020. Global Village Space (GVS) was the first publication that had informed its readers, through its detailed story, on June 23rd, that the Punjab Govt had been working tirelessly towards a soft launch of Quaid-e-Azam Business Park. This work was done to kick start and encourage economic activity – slowed by pandemic – by attracting and facilitating industrial investments and construction work in the country’s largest province.
On March 4th, in two separate meetings, Prime Minister Imran Khan had approved the establishment of 10 Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the four provinces and concurrent privatization of 33 state entities/lands during the current fiscal year. Out of these ten proposed special economic zones, four zones have been assigned to Punjab Industrial Estates Development & Management Company (PIEDMC).
Read more: PIEDMC: PM approves new industrial estates!
According to the PM Office, five of the 10 SEZs will be established in Punjab (Bhalwal, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Vehari and Allama Iqbal SEZ), two each in Sindh (Naushahro Feroze and Bhulari) and two in Balochistan (Bostan and Hub) and one in Khyber Pahtunkhwa (Rashakai).
The launch of Quaid-e-Azam Business Park was due on March 28th, 2020, only a few weeks after the Prime Minister inaugurated another special economic zone (SEZ) near Faisalabad (Jan 2020). This SEZ, Allama Iqbal Industrial City, was developed by Faisalabad Industrial Estate Development and Management Company (FIEDMC) under the stewardship of its chairman, Mr Mian Kashif Ashfaq.
However, the expected launch of Quaid-e-Azam Business Park (QBP) on March 28th was delayed due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Pakistan. Crisis and government’s own SOPs of social distancing did not allow onsite inauguration with large gatherings.
Bureaucratic ‘SOPs’ need to be reviewed?
Sources familiar with the developments of the Quaid-e-Azam business park as well as affiliated with PIEDMC have expressed that there is astute keenness from both the Prime-Minister as well as Chief-Minister Buzdar regarding this project.
Punjab Govt – emerging from the lockdowns – is now taking focused steps to kick start a stagnant economy! Well Done! Quaid-e-Azam Business Park along with "Soft loans" for young entrepreneurs looks a promising initiative! Must Read for entrepreneurs! https://t.co/ysxG8GbMAb
— Moeed Pirzada (@MoeedNj) June 23, 2020
Despite this political will, the process is still being sluggish due to the preexistence of bureaucratic hassles and ‘red-tapism’. Sources believe that PM and key ministers all are aware of how this “multi-layered system” that creates endless inefficiencies but clear management thinking is needed to improve regulatory legislation.
These bureaucratic ‘SOPs’ like the PPRA Rules framed by the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) are in place to mitigate frauds. Still, the rules framed with a mid-20th century economic development in mind need to be reviewed to hasten the development and completion of the SEZs in the 21st-century digital era where the speed of decision making matters.
GVS News Desk with input from Associate Researcher Bakhtiar Arshad in Lahore.