TEXT: It gives me great pleasure to congratulate Daily Business Recorder on taking out a special supplement on Export Processing Zones (EPZs) which have been a widely successful mode for development in a number of countries including China, India and Vietnam etc. who have experimented with different types of zones including EPZs hence, the success and challenges experienced by these countries can prove to be a great source of learning for Pakistan.
Considering the fact that Pakistan is struggling to grow its exports since more than a decade, Export Processing Zones can prove to be an essential tool to enhance the country’s commercial and industrial exports. The importance of EPZs was realized in Pakistan in the 1980s and the EPZ Authority was set up. However, the EPZs have been marred by the same inefficiencies as the rest of Pakistan. The Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) has been advertising a phase 3 for its Karachi EPZ (KEPZ) since 2015, yet there are still issues that have not been solved.
In my view, KEPZ needs to improve its connectivity with major roads to improve its overall image as well as logistics for companies within EPZ. Roads leading to KEPZ are very poor and have security concerns, which is a great deal of threat for consignments as well as investors. Stakeholders of the EPZ, especially the investors, need to be consulted on a regular basis and the problems of the Zones need to be addressed by the concerned authorities on an urgent basis. Major industries cannot be set up because water, chemical waste treatment plants are not allowed.
I firmly believe that there must be basic facilities in the EPZs including petrol pumps so that stakeholders don’t have to drive kilometers to get fuel. There should also be provision of basic medical facilities, a display or convention center and businesses/factories in SEZs must have access to fire-fighting services. The facilities and benefits that were promised through legislations such as EPZ rules and EPZA Act must be ensured.
The issues which EPZ based enterprises are suffering from need to be addressed at the highest priority. Firms in EPZs should also focus on working to adapt latest techniques and to promote efficiencies so that a technology spill-over effect can benefit all of Pakistan.
I hope that this effort made by the Business Recorder would bring some of key issues to the notice of decision makers and the government would accordingly devise effective strategies to minimize the grievances being faced by the industrialists who have their units at these EPZs which would surely go in favor of the country and the economy.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021