Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan will be doing a soft launch of Quaid-e-Azam Business Park, in Lahore on Saturday, 18th July, 2020. Global Village Space (GVS) was the first publication that had informed its readers, through its detailed story, on 23rd June, that Punjab Govt is working hard towards a soft lunch Quaid-e-Azam Business Park’s to kickstart investments in country’s largest province.
The Quaid-e-Azam Business Park is a special economic zone (SEZ) that is being developed by Pakistan Industrial Estates Development and Management Company (PIEDMC) near Sheikhupura on M2 motorway. PIEDMIC, a public private partnership concern, is curently headed by a prominent industrialist and businessman, Mr. Nabeel Hashmi. He is a prominent exporter of auto-parts from Pakistan.
The launch of Quaid-e-Azam Business Park was due on the 28th March, 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 situation and government’s own SOPs of social distancing did not allow on-site inauguration with large gatherings.
— Punjab Industrial Estate Development Management Co (@PIEDMC_) July 17, 2020
However, this time around the Prime Minister will not visit the site. Rather, a soft launch will take place at the Punjab Chief Minister’s office at 8 Club Road, GOR-1. The PM will be accompanied by a small contingent of ministers and officers. The Minister of Industries in Punjab, Mian Aslam Iqbal, will give a briefing to the PM and CM Punjab. Mian Aslam Iqbal has been at the forefront in having this project inaugurated. Chairman PIEDMC, Nabeel Hashmi, senior PTI leader and ex-minister of Punjab Aleem Khan, current health minster of Punjab Dr Yasmin Rashid and Punjab’s finance minister Hashim Jawan Bakht are all expected to be in attendance.
QBP: Significance of the Soft launch
The soft-launch is a very significant development since the project’s inauguration has been pending for a year. Initially, it was conceived as the “Quaid-e-Azam Apparel Park”, but its name was later changed to “Quaid-e-Azam Business Park” as its scope was widened to accommodate multiple industries. As reported by GVS on 23rd June 2020, interested industrialists from China, Middle East and Pakistan have already approached the management for investments and acquisitions of land in the business park (QBP)
Out of the total 1300 acres, 10-15 acres have been sold even before the formal launch, while the rest is expected to sell quickly after the inauguration. However, the land is still to further developed for effective colonisation. This inauguration, in the form of “Soft launch by PM” will provided formal endorsement of the federal government. This will allow all the federal and provincial departments to work in tandem to develop the land by expediting the delivery of basic utilities like gas, electricity, water, internet, access roads and security.
Read more about Quaid-e-Azam Business Park: Quaid-e-Azam Business Park Official site
Quaid-e-Azam Business Park: Background
Punjab Govt, after its new budget (2020-21), was gearing to stimulate business and investments across Pakistan’s biggest province. The soft launch of “Quaid-e-Azam Business Park” (QBP) is part of this initiative. Mian Aslam Iqbal, Minister for Industries, Commerce and Investment is leading the initiative.
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
On 19th of June, Mian Aslam Iqbal, the Minister for Industries, Commerce and Investment, of Punjab Govt, chaired a high powered meeting of the Punjab Board of Investment and Trade in Lahore as part of this initiative. The meeting was attended by officials from the concerned ministries and Punjab Industrial Estate Development and Management Company (PIEDMC) – that will oversee the development of Quaid-e-Azam Business Park.
The chairman PIEDMC, Mr. Nabeel Hashmi, briefed the minister on steps being taken to expedite industrial development in the province. He also shared the business plan of PIEDMC’s flagship project near Sheikhupura named “Quaid e Azam Business Park”.
Investment Potential of Quaid-e-Azam Business Park
Global Village Space (GVS) has learnt that Quaid-e-Azam Business Park, once completed as per its envisaged master plan and business concept, can attract investments of around Rs 250 billion. Its Master plan shows a total spread of around 1900 acres – including a 200-acre labor colony which will house 30,000 people.
QBP may also incorporate pre-existing Bhamb village inside it. This project, on completion, may provide employment to 250,000 skilled and unskilled individuals. It will be a great job and skill opportunity for the surrounding village populations.
GVS was shown the draft copy of QBP Master Plan. According to this plan, if we take off the 27-28 acres of Bhamb village then QBP’s envisaged structures will be spread over around 1859 acres of land. It is thus bigger than Sundar Industrial Estate near Lahore. Sundar was also developed by PIEDMC during the Musharraf and Pervaiz Elahi government.
Read more about PIEDMC: PIEDMC to achieve 100% colonisation at Sundar Industrial Estate
If QBP is developed as per its initial master plan then 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).
QBP master plan thus represents a fast developing concept, across Pakistan, that emphasises an industrial and business city with food places, restaurants, laundries and entertainment sites to provide a complete life to those thousands of workers and commercial visitors that will work on these business projects.
All in all, the “Quaid-e-Azam Business Park” offers 653 industrial plots ranging from 0.5 acres to more than 4 acres. This is to accommodate the vast variety of industries ranging from mobile phone manufacturing, chemicals, plastic to auto parts, electronics and logistics. As mentioned earlier, initially the concept was focused on apparel industry but since then the scope of Quaid-e-Azam Business Park has been vastly expanded.
Quaid-e-Azam Business Park: Ideal location
QBP location was chosen to optimise connectivity to the nearest railway station, dry port and airport with the seamless provision of utilities being promised. The business park is a mere 6 KM from the nearest railway station, 42 KM from the nearest dry port (Lahore) and 55 KM from the nearest airport (Lahore). A government technical and vocational training institute exists nearby in Sheikhupura, mere 15 Km’s away, which ensures a steady supply of skilled labour will be made available.
The unique selling point of such industrial estates is the provision of certain services that are not generally available to investors in the rest of the country. Primary among these is state support and facilitation which can help reduce gestation periods of projects, thus precipitating profitability. Additionally, tax holidays, export incentives, import duty waivers and fixed energy costs may also be incorporated to enhance the attractiveness of the project.
Such industrial estates, like the one planned in Quaid-e-Azam Business Park provide a one-window operation that mitigates red tapism, bureaucratic hassles and thus expedites service delivery to new businesses. Utility connections like electricity, water and gas are easily available while physical security and safety of the estate is ensured. The project also boasts a secure boundary wall parameter with controlled entry and exit points and telecommunication infrastructure that supports broadband internet wireless connectivity. Sundar Industrial Estate near Lahore, also developed by PIEDMC, is a good example.
Mian Aslam Iqbal – Minister Industries, Commerce and Investments, Govt of Punjab – reiterated his stance, in his meeting with Punjab Board of Investments, of prioritising and facilitating the industrial sector to spur economic growth in the province. He also mentioned his government’s desire to make Punjab a hub for the IT sector for which a plan would soon be unveiled.
Punjab Govt plans to develop a state of art IT park in Lahore. This would help the service industry improve its competitiveness and take greater advantage of exchange rate depreciation that can work towards greater exports of software and IT products and services. Pakistan’s annual export earnings from the IT sector hover around the $ 1bn mark. Much more potential can be unleashed through such programs.
Global Village Space (GVS) has also learnt that Punjab govt also intends to launch a “Punjab Rozgar Scheme”. Realising the slow down impact of Corona pandemic on potential business investments a support fund is being created to provide soft loans to young entrepreneurs. These micro-loans will be from Rs. 100,000 to Rs. 50 lacs (Rs. 5 million) provided at easy interest rates of 2-3% per annum. Total size of the funding being mobilised for these soft loans will be around Rs. 25 billion. Punjab govt will be providing around Rs. 9 to Rs. 9.5 billion in this fund, and expects commercial banks to pool the rest of around Rs. 15-16 billion.