The Econ-omic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet may be updated by next week on the progress made with respect to provision of gas and electricity to the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) established under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Sources in the Finance Ministry stated that a meeting of the ECC held on February 4, 2019 directed the Power and Petroleum Divisions to prepare plans for provision of uninterrupted electricity and gas to SEZs in consultation with provincial governments within 30 days and brief the ECC.
The meeting was told that provision of gas and electricity is prerequisite for development of SEZs. The meeting noted that provision of utilities - gas and electricity - is the responsibility of the federal government and without gas and electricity, no SEZ can be developed.
The meeting also directed that cost of provision of utilities (gas and electricity) will be met through public Sector Development Programme (PSDP) and noted that provincial governments need to speed up work on establishment of SEZs and provision of requisite infrastructure for establishment of industry. The meeting observes that Balochistan required special attention for establishment of SEZs to improve economy of the province and also generate employment opportunities.
Therefore, the meeting further observed that the federal government will ensure provision of gas and electricity for attracting prospective investors to establish industry in the SEZs.
The sources said that ECC was also given a comparative incentive structure for the industries in SEZs in China, India, Vietnam and Pakistan. The meeting was further told these countries have given tax exemption to the investors for different period on their export of production from SEZs.
The officials document reveals that ECC's directives included: (i) Board of Investment (BoI) will revamp its processes with a view to reducing the role of the federal government in the approval process of SEZs in line with the developed nature of the subject; (ii) to complete the processing of SEZs' proposals within 45 days while mainly focusing on confirmation of availability of gas and electricity; (iii) to initiate a requisite process for necessary amendments in SEZs Act, 2012 to further empower the provincial governments to process applications for SEZs; (iv) to submit the case to the cabinet for withdrawal of the mark-up support by provincial governments and freight subsidy by the government of Pakistan for SEZs under the CPEC.