Investors pulling out of Punjab SEZs on enterprise status holdup

December 01, 2021

LAHORE: Industrialisation in Punjab’s Special Economic Zones has ground to a halt as bureaucratic foot-dragging in granting these clusters ‘enterprise’ status spooked investors...

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LAHORE: Industrialisation in Punjab’s Special Economic Zones (SEZs) has ground to a halt as bureaucratic foot-dragging in granting these clusters ‘enterprise’ status spooked investors into pulling out their investments at a massive rate, officials said on Tuesday.

Owing to this prolonged holdup, Punjab Industrial Estates Development and Management Company (PIEDMC) has so far repaid over Rs500 million to industrialists, while another 150 applications for refund of additional almost Rs5 billion have been received by the PIEDMC.

These issues came to fore in the 153rd PIEDMC Board of Directors meeting held here on Tuesday.

The meeting was presided over by the Chairman PIEDMC Syed Nabil Hashmi, while it was attended by board directors Syed Tariq Siraj Jafri, Arif Qasim, Ahsan Mehmood Butt, Usman Aslam Malik, Shahid Hussain Tarar, Muhammad Anees Khawaja, Dr Sameera Rehman, CEO Ali Moazzam Syed, and concerned officers of finance, labor and industries departments. The industrial estates that were granted the status of the SEZs are Quaid-e-Azam Industrial Park Sheikhupura, Bahawalpur Industrial Estate, Rahim Yar Khan Industrial Estate, and Vehari Industrial Estate.

However, due to unnecessary documents sought by the Punjab Board of Investment and Trade (PBIT) and Board of Investment (BOI), the industrialists were no longer interested in making further investments in Punjab, the meeting was told. Further, the issue was also taken up with the Prime Minister in a recent sitting, besides meeting were also held with provincial government including Chief Minister’s Special Monitoring Unit (SMU) and Punjab Industry Minister Mian Aslam Iqbal.

The SMU has also written a letter to the PBIT and inquired about the issue. Despite having been raised with the highest of the forums, the issue remains unaddressed so far.

Meanwhile, according to the PIEDMC statement, the board of directors’ meeting was briefed about new industrial estates of Sialkot, Muzaffargarh, and Rawalpindi under the management of PIEDMC.

The board also learnt that due to the delaying tactics of the concerned departments in granting enterprise status to the SEZs was dismaying investors and resulting in investment flight.

Expressing grave concern over the matter, the board directed concerned officials to take up the matter with all forums of the federal and Punjab government.

Moreover, the board approved the extension of legal panel of PIEDMC, construction of new 132 KV grid stations at Multan and Sundar Industrial Estate, and payment for bank guarantee and annual fee to NEPRA for electricity distribution licence in Vehari Industrial Estate.

Approval was also accorded to construction of approach road to connect Bahawalpur Industrial Estate with motorway, sales and marketing plan of Chunian Aqua Business Park, and management training programme for the current financial year.

Go-ahead was also given to inclusion of newly nominated director Shehzad Azam Khan and the minutes of 152nd board meeting.

The board directed the management to complete the development works of Quaid-e-Azam Business Park, Bahawalpur and Chunian Aqua Business Park in given time.

Addressing the meeting, Chairman PIEDMC Syed Nabil Hashmi said on the directions of Minister of Industries and Commerce Mian Aslam Iqbal, PIEDMC was facilitating business through one-window operations in its managed industrial zones. “Ease of Doing Business Index in these zones is one of the best in Pakistan and that is why industrialists are giving preference to PIEDMC-managed zones for their business,” Hashmi said.

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