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Govt mulls new law to remove roadblocks in SEZ development


May 24, 2020

ISLAMABAD: Government has decided to bring in new legislation to remove roadblocks in development of a special economic zone envisaged under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) framework, a top official said on Saturday.

Board of Investment Chairman Atif Bokhari said a new act through parliament would ensure the presence of all the federal and provincial departments remove hurdles in the SEZ development through a one-window operation.

“The government will take special measures to facilitate local and foreign investors to bring in more investment to Allama Iqbal Industrial City, a prioritised SEZ of Faisalabad Industrial Estate Development and Management Company (FIEDMC) to accelerate the pace of development,” Bokhari said in a meeting with FIEDMC Chairman Kashif Ashfaq.

Bokhari, who is also state minister, said road shows would be conducted in different countries of the world through joint venture of BOI and FIEDMC to attract foreign investment. President of China is expected to visit in Pakistan and FIEDMC should take preparation in this regard to welcome delegations of Chinese investors, he said.

Under the CPEC framework, nine economic zones dedicated to industrial development with incentives are to be set up. Tax exemptions for expatriates till 2040 were proposed as incentive to attract investments in SEZs. The $60 billion CPEC kick-started five years back concentrating mainly on construction of roads and motorways and power plants to ensure energy security in the wake of massive power shortfall. Within a last couple of years, a series of power projects transformed the country into energy-surplus destination from the power-deficient one. CPEC framework envisaged 10,000 megawatts of production capacity.

Special economic zones are the next crucial component after early harvest projects under the CPEC. Initially, 27 zones were expected to be set up. The number was now reduced to nine.

Bokhari said the government has been working to improve all the nine indicators of the World Bank’s ease of doing business.

Both Chairmen BOI and FIEDMC also discussed the investment prospects available in the country and the areas and fields where foreign investors could show interest and make investments leading to overall economic development and increase in the GDP growth rate. The problems faced by the foreign investors post COVID-19 environment were also discussed.

Ashfaq said Allama Iqbal Industrial City is being built as a priority project under the CPEC framework. Completion of the project would mark the start of an industrial era for the country. The industries being set up in AIIC would enjoy 10-year tax exemption on import of machinery. Additional facilities planned for the industrial city include a technical university.

The FIEDMC chairman said the company would collaborate with the Naya Pakistan Housing Authority and construct 10,000 flats for Allama Iqbal Industrial City labourers and a shuttle train would be launched soon for commuting them from one place to another.

“On the pattern of Faisalabad Express, another new road from Sahianwala to Chiniot will be constructed to get easy access to special economic zone,” he said. Ashfaq also invited Chairman BOI to visit FIEDMC to review the progress of different projects.