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ISLAMABAD: The government has approved the Gwadar Smart City Master Plan, Federal Secretary Maritime Affairs Rizwan Ahmed said Thursday. The secretary said this while briefing a subcommittee of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) held under the chairpersonship of Munazza Hassan to discuss and review audit observations regarding Maritimes Division.

The meeting settled all the audit objections of the ministry for the year 2009.

Ahmed, briefing the panel, said that within the next three to four years, the Gwadar Port city would become new business hub for not only China and Pakistan but also the Central Asian countries including Afghanistan.

Responding to a question, Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, Secretary Maritimes Affairs said that at present most of the Afghanistan transit trade was taking place from Gwadar Port.

He said that the government of Pakistan was in talks with the authorities of Uzbekistan to establish a dry port there, which would serve all the Central Asian Republics (CARs). Ahmed maintained that Uzbek authorities were keen to shift their exports and imports to Gwadar as it was the nearest port city for them.

The officials further said that within next six months Pakistan would get more good news regarding the developments in Gwadar and other port cities.

Giving the details of Gwadar Smart City Master Plan, the officials said that Gwadar's population was set to exceed two million people in the long-term with high paid expatriate professionals accounting for up to 80 percent of the population.

He said that the city was likely to attract high paid jobs as the government was to provide a tax-free environment, Pakistan's largest international airport had been inaugurated, high-tech industries would be established, mega shopping malls, luxury resorts, and manmade islands.

The 75-page master plan document, prepared by Chinese state-owned company China Communications Construction Company in conjunction with Pakistan's Minister of Planning, and Development, and Gwadar Development Authority, chalks out an elaborate road map and plan on how Gwadar is to become the trade and economic hub of South Asia with a GDP per capita of $15,000 - 10 times that of Pakistan's average.

The Government of Pakistan and China project Gwadar's economy to surpass $30 billion per annum in the long-term, creating 1-1.2 million high paid jobs with an income per capita of $15,000.

Pakistan's current income per capita meaning the economic output the country generates per person is around $1,500, which Gwadar will eclipse by some 1,000 percent.

The mega projects, include a $5 billion investment into Gwadar's power sector with 15 new power plants, $1 billion invested in to generating 700,000 m3 of fresh water per day through desalination plants, a manmade island, central business district, Pakistan's tallest building all in a tax-free environment, where life can be enjoyed whilst avoiding taxes.

Gwadar is set to see a massive influx of skilled workers and high-powered executives as it gears up to become the technological, industrial, and high-tech service hub of South Asia.

According to Gwadar smart port city master plan, Gwadar's economic output is expected to exceed $30 billion, while creating up to 1.2 million jobs for skilled workers and professionals.

The Master Plan details international exhibition centres, multiple theme parks, luxury five resorts, botanical gardens, and museums in a thriving modern city all within Pakistan's first 'weapon free' city.

Pakistan's current trade and economic hub of Karachi see some 65 million tonnes of cargo through the port each year, and with Gwadar eclipsing that by 2030 as the key route for trade with the Middle-East, Afghanistan, Central Asia, and China, the city is expected to become the region's leading trade centre.

Gwadar will require some 15,800 new homes by 2025, 47,600 by 2030, and 254,500 by 2050, according to the new Gwadar Smart City Master Plan.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2020