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KARACHI: Pakistan People’s Party chairman and country’s foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari on Saturday inaugurated the Dhabeji Special Economic Zone project in Thatta, terming it ‘an iconic project’.

He said the Sindh government has launched a number of mega projects in various sectors, including health, power generation, and infrastructure development while others have done nothing except lip service, making tall claims.

“I congratulate Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah and his team who materialized the dream of President Asif Ali Zardari who had negotiated three important projects - Dhabeji SEZ, Kati Bender, and Karachi Circular Railway with Chinese authorities.”

Uplift work on crucial Dhabeji SEZ to begin today

He said this while speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of Dhabeji SEZ at its site - Dhabeji.

The ceremony was attended by Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, provincial ministers - Sharjeel Memon, Nasir Shah, Gianchand, Karachi Mayor Murtaza Wahab, CM Special Assistant and host of the program Syed Qasim Naveed, Chairman Sindh Investment Board Mohammad Waseem, MPA Riaz Shah Shirazi, diplomats of different countries, investors, industrialists, and bureaucrats.

He said it was President Asif Zardari who laid the foundation of the CPEC by giving Gwadar Port to China. “He made frequent visits to China during his tenure as President and negotiated the development of Pakistan, particularly the upliftment of industrial and road infrastructure, power generation, trade, and commerce but he was criticized and targeted,” he said and added today the fruits of his frequent visits are being harvested in the shape of CPEC projects under which Thar Coal-fired Power Project has started power generation, Dhabeji Special Economic Zone is being developed, and various road infrastructure projects have been completed in the country.

The Chairman PPP said due to the vision of President Zardari economic stability developed in the country with the launching of CPEC projects. He added that the development of Gwadar Port and improvements being made at Karachi Port was part of Zardari’s vision which was bound to bring prosperity generating employment opportunities.

Bilawal said that the concept of Public Private Partnership (PPP) was envisioned by Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in her 1993 election manifesto. He added that under the PPP plan, the government and private sector would work together to launch mega projects and development activities in partnership.

“When the government works with the private sector as a development partner its benefits trickle down to the people in the shape of employment opportunities, development of their communication and industrial infrastructure, and the businessmen as partners reap the harvest,” Bilawal said and added the provincial government carrying forward the concept of PPP constructed Karachi-Thatta dual carriageway, Jhirk-Mulakatiar Bridge on River Indus, launched coal-mining with Engro for power generation in Thar and these projects were running successfully.

The PPP Chief proudly said that the Public Private Partnership Unit of the Sindh Government has been recognized as the 6th best-performing unit by the International Intelligence Unit of the Economist. “The Economist’s Intelligence Unit has issued rating Public Private Partnership projects in progress in Asia,” he said and added under the rating Thailand, Philippines, and China were at number one, number two, and number three respectively.

“India is at four, Gujrat state of India is at five while Sindh province at number 6,” he said and added number seven has been given to Vietnam and Bangladesh, and 9th rating has been awarded to Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, and Pakistan.

Bilawal Bhutto said that the rating showed that the PPP government has secured its international recognition for its performance.

Speaking on the occasion, Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said we have come together to celebrate the remarkable growth and resilience of Sindh’s economy, despite the global challenges we have faced.

Shah said as we embarked on the journey of the post-Covid era, our focus remained steadfast on revitalizing Pakistan’s economy, with a special emphasis on the vibrant province of Sindh. “The Pakistan People’s Party is committed to bringing about social development and economic prosperity, and the Dhabeji Special Economic Zone (SEZ) stands as a testament to our dedication to that goal,” he said and invited investors, industrialists, and traders to explore the Dhabeji SEZ, a thriving hub that brimmed with untapped investment opportunities.

Shah said that positioned as a premier destination for both local and international businesses, the Dhabeji SEZ held the boundless potential for growth, innovation, and prosperity.

Murad Shah said as we have gathered here for the groundbreaking ceremony, we reaffirmed our commitment to creating an environment to nurture economic development and attract investments. “The Dhabeji SEZ offers a strategic location, meticulously planned infrastructure, and supportive policies that provide an unparalleled platform for businesses to flourish,” he said.

The CM extended a warm welcome to investments in various sectors, ranging from physical infrastructure and the social sector to clean energy and water management. “This SEZ presents an avenue for transformative projects that will have a lasting impact on the lives of our citizens,” he said.

The CM expressed his sincere gratitude to all those who have contributed to the remarkable endeavor to establish Dhabeji SEZ. He added that the collaborative efforts of his government officials, private sector partners, and dedicated individuals have been instrumental in making this vision a reality.

Together, let us seize the abundant opportunities presented by Sindh, ensuring shared growth and prosperity across our diverse economic landscape, Murad Shah said that the Dhabeji SEZ was not just a symbol of progress; it was a testament to his government’s unwavering commitment to building a better future for Sindh.

The host of the program, the Special Assistant to CM welcomed the guests and briefed the chairman PPP about the features of the mega project.

Earlier, the Chairman PPP & Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari performed Dhabeji Special Economic Zone’s groundbreaking ceremony organised program at Dhabeji.

The project: The event unveiled the SEZ’s comprehensive development plan, highlighting its multitude of benefits and features such as rapid-start industrial infrastructure, guaranteed uninterrupted utilities, SEZ incentives, sustainable practices, and job creation potential. The ceremony showcased the commitment and collaboration between public and private stakeholders in driving economic growth and prosperity.

Dhabeji Special Economic Zone, the largest SEZ in Pakistan, has a greater significance given its geographic and strategic location. It has easy access to Port Qasim, enabling raw material import and finished goods exports without incurring major inland transportation costs and saving time.

Easy access to Karachi Airport will enable the safe travel of foreign workers and management personnel. The direct access to the National Highway will enable the transportation of goods to upcountry and Central Asian nations utilizing the National Trade Corridor.

Designed to promote economic growth, attract foreign investment, and boost local industries, the Dhabeji SEZ will provide state-of-the-art infrastructure and a favorable business environment for various sectors. With a focus on innovation, sustainability, and job creation, the Dhabeji SEZ aims at contributing significantly to regional economic development and prosperity. The project will attract an approximately investment of $5 billion and will generate employment of 150,000 (direct/indirect).

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


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