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ISLAMABAD: Board of Investment’s (BoI) performance has been unable to operationalise a single Special Economic Zone (SEZs) during one year of Pakistan Tahreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) government.

BOI has not proposed any timeline for completion/operationalisation of the proposed nine SEZs under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), according to the first year performance report submitted to the Prime Minister.

However Chairman BOI Zubair Gilani was appointed on 8 August 2019, the second man to hold this position since the PTIn took over power, and had been in office less than two weeks before the year of the PTI government was up and hence cannot reasonably be held accountable for the Board’s performance.

Sources in BOI told this correspondent that the Board as the Secretariat of SEZs identified nine SEZs which have been facing land acquisition, provision of utility services, security and other infrastructure issues.

These nine SEZs include: (1) Rashakai Comprehensive SEZ, Nowshera, KP, (2) Allama Iqbal Industrial City, Faisalabad, (3) China Special Economic Zone, Dhabejji Thatta, (4) IT Park, Islamabad, (5) Bostan Industrial Zone, Balochistan, (6) SEZ Port Qasim Karachi, (7) Moondash SEZ, Gilgit-Baltistan, (8) Mirpur SEZ, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and (9) Momand Marbel City, TATA.

The BOI focused on the development of three SEZs - Rashakai Economic Zone (KP), Special Economic Zone Dhabeji (Sindh) and Allama Iqbal Industrial City Faisalabad on priority basis. Development work in these SEZs is in progress though the pace is very slow according to sources.

An agreement between the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zone Development Management Company (KPEZDMC) and the China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) for the development of Rashakai SEZ in Nowshera was signed on Nov 3, 2018 and the work on off-site infrastructure facilities for the project was scheduled to begin on Oct 31, 2018 but it has yet to start.

Sources in BOI have revealed that PC-1 for Rashakai SEZ for the provision of electricity will be submitted by August 30, 2019 and funding will be provided through the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP). The petroleum division will make arrangements for provision of gas and the provincial government will ensure provision of adequate supply of water.

A detailed feasibility study of 1,530 acres for China SEZ at Dhabeji was completed in April 2018. Service providers K-Electric, Sui Southern Gas Company (SSGC) and Karachi Water and Sewerage Board (KWSB) had shared official estimates along with the details of external infrastructure availability and the tentative timelines for provision of electricity, gas and water to the doorstep of the SEZ.

The earth-breaking ceremony of Allama Iqbal Industrial City (M3), Faisalabad, is expected by the last week of the current month. The government claims 80 per cent land for the project has been acquired. An application will soon be submitted to the BoI for the status of SEZ under the SEZ Act, 2012.

On August 6, the last meeting of Board of Approval (BOA) for SEZs was jointly chaired by Advisors to Prime Minister for Finance, Abdul Hafeez Shaikh and Abdul Razak Dawood, Adviser for Commerce, Textile, Industry & Production and Investment in which seven applications for SEZs from Government of Punjab were approved and onsent to BOI Secretariat for further processing.

These are (i) Rahim Year Khan Industrial Estate, (ii) Bhalwal Industrial Estate, (iii) Vehari Industrial Estate, (iv) Rachna Industrial Park, (v) Oil Village SEZ, (vi) Zaamin SEZ Industrial Park and (vii) Roshan Sun Tao Paper Mills (pvt) Ltd.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019