By: Dr. Mirza Ikhtiar Baig:
There is no doubt that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a game changer for the development of Pakistan with various projects in power generation, infrastructure, Gwadar Port and Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in various stages of completion. Among these projects, I was most looking forward to the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) because with this project we will achieve important goals like industrialization in the country, transfer of industries, new job opportunities and exports.
The experience of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and Export Processing Zones (EPZs) has been very successful in the world, in which a region of special geographical nature is developed through a one-window operation for industrialization and export with modern infrastructure and facilities. To attract foreign investors in the zone, electricity, gas, water, CETP plant facilities at competitive rates and tax and customs duty exemptions are provided so that manufacturers and exporters can export world class products at competitive rates.
At present, 5400 Special Economic Zones are working in 150 countries of the world, in which the SEZs of Cambodia, Bangladesh, Philippines, India, African countries Morocco, Kenya and Ghana are noteworthy. Morocco’s Tangier Export Processing Zone’s exports are $20 billion a year, including the co-export of most vehicles to France and other European countries. I agreed to go to the Nairobi Export Processing Zone in Kenya where numerous industries are shipping textile products to the US duty free.
In 2016, Pakistan announced the establishment of 9 Special Economic Zones (SEZs) under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, including 2 in each province and one SEZ in Gilgit-Baltistan. Out of these zones, work has started in 4 economic zones, including Dhabiji Special Economic Zone covering 1530 acres in Thatta in Sindh, in which 750 acres of land has been allocated for Phase 1 and 780 acres of land for Phase 2 and this zone port Only 8 km from Qasim, 30 km from Karachi Airport and very close to National Highway.
The master planning and feasibility report of this project has been prepared and recently the federal government has given it full SEZ status under which the investors will get tax exemption for 10 years and duty free import facility of plant machinery.
Readers! The difference between Export Processing Zones (EPZs) and Special Economic Zones (SEZs) is that only export-oriented industries are set up in EPZs while various types of industries can be set up in SEZs. Recently, the foundation stone of Dhabiji Special Economic Zone was laid by Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in Dhabiji to which I was also invited. Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Investment Adviser Sindh Qasim Naveed Qamar, Provincial Ministers Sharjeel Memon, Nasir Hussain Shah, Mayor Karachi Murtaza Wahab, Consul General of China and prominent leaders of the business community were also present on this occasion.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that one and a half lakh new jobs will be created in Dhabiji Economic Zone. In Pakistan, the PPP introduced the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model in which the government and the private sector jointly complete various projects and a successful example of this is the Tharkol projects. Bilawal Bhutto has declared the development of Dhabiji zone under public-private partnership as a successful model of the Sindh government, which has made Sindh province sixth in the world in public-private partnership ranking, which is a role model for other cities of Pakistan.
Investment Adviser Sindh Qasim Naveed Qamar and Chief Executive Officer of Sindh Economic Zone Management Company (SEZMC) Abdul Azam O’Kelly said that in the first phase, we are developing phase 1 of 750 acres under public-private partnership, which will take 18 months. It will cost 100 million dollars. The contract for the development of Dhabiji Economic Zone has been awarded through auction to local company ZKB Developers, who have successfully completed several major projects in the country.
Chairman of the company Mahabat Khan said that electricity, gas, water and high quality infrastructure will be provided before the allotment of land in Dhabiji Special Economic Zone and after the completion of the project the company will also be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the zone. . An 8 km long direct road is being constructed to connect Dhabiji zone with Port Qasim, on the basis of which the goods manufactured in the zone will be able to be exported directly from Port Qasim.
I have told them in my previous columns and meetings with senior officials that the main reason for not setting up new industries in Karachi is the non-availability of industrial plots and their high cost. The price of industrial plots in the site and Korangi Industrial Area has reached Rs 25-30 crore per acre.
That is, billions of rupees are needed for the land to set up a medium-sized industry, due to which new industries are not being set up in Karachi. The success of Dhabiji Special Economic Zone will depend on cheap industrial plots, one window operation standard facilities of electricity, gas and water.
I congratulate Chairman PPP Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Chief Minister and Government of Sindh on the foundation stone of Dhabiji Special Economic Zone.