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ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for the Board of Investment (including Chinese and other FDI) and Special Initiatives Chaudhary Salik Hussain chaired the 8th meeting of the Approvals Committee (AC) at the Board of Investment (BOI), here on Thursday.

Members of AC from, federal ministries, provincial governments, provincial BOIs, and representatives of the private sector as well as senior officers, including BOI Secretary Asad Rehman Gilani were in attendance.

After detailed deliberations and discussions, the forum approved eight zone applications. These included two multi-industry SEZ proposals from Sindh, and three from Punjab for grant SEZ status to namely, Dhabeji SEZ Thatta, SITE Larkana, DWP Innovation Park (sponsored by DWP Group), Kasur, Smart SEZ (a project of Habib Rafiq Group), Sheikhupura, and Sundar Green SEZ (sponsored by Bin Arif Industries), Lahore. Whereas three Sole Enterprise SEZ proposals one from Sindh, for the establishment of Armstrong ZE Tyres SESEZ in Thatta, and two from Punjab for the establishment of Ombre SESEZ (Outfitters) in Lahore, and Sapphire Chemicals Limited SESEZ in Khushab were acceded by the committee.

These eight SEZs will bring in an investment of PKR 507.13 billion and create 74,000 direct employment opportunities. Whereas, out of these eight SEZ projects, three SEZs are located in under-developed districts, while except for two SEZ projects, i.e. Dhabeji SEZ and SITE Larkana, all projects are to be developed in the private mode. AC also gave approval for the constitution of SEZ committees for the newly-approved zones that would enable their operationalisation in an expeditious manner.

The BOI secretary commended the efforts made by the provincial SEZAs for developing such good proposals for spurring industrial growth in current economic conditions. He said that the BOI is facilitating the SEZAs in undertaking their respective roles and not otherwise.

He hoped that the BOI and the SEZAs will continue to collaborate with the same spirit and facilitate investment in the country. Special Assistant to Chief Minister Government of Sindh on Investment and PPP, Qasim Naveed Qamar also attended the meeting.

While speaking on the case of conversion of SITE Larkana to SEZ status, and the proposed subsidised rates of fully-developed land, he said that the Government of Sindh is committed to encouraging industrialisation rather than revenue generation through the sale of plots, and also hoped that Dhabeji SEZ which is the first PPP SEZ project of Government of Sindh will create the role model SEZ for the province of Sindh.

The chair appreciated the efforts made by the government functionaries in facilitating the investment in Special Economic Zones and setting them on the course of success, he also stressed the importance of establishing a robust enforcement mechanism to ensure that the commitments made by the promoters are followed through and the investments are realised within the specified timeframes.

Besides foregoing approval of Zone Regulations for Challenge Fashion SEZ and framing of Standardized Template of Development Agreement to be signed among zone developers, provincial and federal governments were also granted. The house also deliberated the need for the establishment of a dedicated Secretariat for SEZs in the BOI and recommended placing the case before the Board of Approvals.

Additional Secretary BOI Khashihur Rehman also informed the house that the BOI being the custodian of all SEZs is responsible for governing SEZs at the national level in a uniform manner. It is working to support the provincial SEZAs to play their delegated roles in the matters of SEZ governance efficiently through consultation and standardization while empowering them to use the legal space available to cater to the specific needs of their SEZs, prescription of a standardised template to enable SEZAs negotiate Development Agreements on their own terms while remaining within the bounds of SEZ law is one such example.

As for the existing SEZs, updated status on their colonization and infrastructure development was also apprised by the concerned SEZAs, which showed significant progress after the digitisation of the SEZ approvals that have eliminated the real estate activities that earlier hindered genuine investments from materialising.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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Muhammed Jun 23, 2023 11:55am
TOPI DRAMA. Existing industries are EXITING & these Chimps are setting new industrial zones to invite investment from abroad. Why not concrete actions are being initiated to stall exodus of already established industries??????
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Tariq Qurashi Jun 23, 2023 12:50pm
Islamabad also desperately needs its SEZ to be made operational. This is a critical SEZ for CEPEC.
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