December 15, 2015Print : Business
LAHORE: China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) will make Pakistan the epicenter of global economic activities, Nishat Group Chairman Mian Muhammad Mansha said on Monday.
He predicted, "If we play our cards right there would soon be a reversal of brain drain."
Welcoming British High Commissioner Philip Barton, who visited the under-construction Nishat Emporium, Mansha appreciated the keen interest and support of the British government and its private sector to CPEC.
He said the services sector of Britain is very enthusiastic for participating in the CPEC project.
He expressed optimism about the corridor and said he visited Urumqi in China that is situated across Pakistani border.
The region with 60 million population is buzzing with activity, he said, adding that his host in Urumqi was developing housing and hotels on 30 square miles, anticipating activities as the PEC becomes operational.
"I asked an official of the communist party why they are supporting Pakistan all the way in this project and he said China is a huge country, but has coast on one side and is landlocked from other three sides.
The Chinese official said that Gwadar is the most ideally located port in the entire region that will connect not only China, but all Central Asian States with the developed and developing world.
"You can see light of Muscat at night from the Gwadar Port," the official said, adding that many regions of the subcontinent up to Nepal would be accessible for trade to China and Central Asian States after completion of the CPEC project.
Mansha said this is the time to open up so that Pakistan geared to take advantage of this great trade corridor. He appreciated the economic stability brought in by the present regime. "It is now time to promote growth," he said, urging the government to give equal importance to domestic commerce along with export promotion.
Mansha said that the country should be prepared to cater to the needs of thousands of people that will pass through this important trade route.
"We need state-of-the-art shopping malls," he said, and urged the government to dispose of thousands of acres of prime government land to the private developers through transparent auction.
The Railways alone is sitting on 160,000 acres of prime land that is not being utilised commercially, he said.
Similarly, other state institutions are sitting on unutilised land. The country needs hundreds of state-of-the-art shopping malls such as Nishat Emporium, he said.
Investors, he said, are there, but the land is locked in the hands of state institutions.
Railways could not only pay off all its debt, but also generate enough resources to modernise itself if its unutilised real estate is disposed of transparently.
The Nishat Group chairman said that many private sector power projects of up to 50MW exist for mills. Many have surplus power available that could be utilised in other factories, but the wheeling problems have not yet been resolved.
A lot of load on the national grid would be reduced if the government allows mills to consume surplus capacity in their other projects through wheeling, he said, and expressed the hope that the issue would soon be resolved.
British High Commissioner Philip Burton said that his government fully supports the Chinese investment in CPEC. This corridor is important for the region, he said, adding, "We strongly support this initiative."
British experts engaged in the construction of Nishat Emporium have been regularly visiting Pakistan and have faced no security problems, Burton said, adding that the security in the country is much better than the perception abroad. It is, in fact, a stunning place for people to come, he added.