Gwadar News Corner
KARACHI: The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) with its wide portfolio of projects in energy, road networks, railways and many other sectors offered huge opportunities for investment and employment.
These views were expressed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, on Tuesday, while addressing the business community at the Governor House in Karachi.
The meeting was also attended by the Sindh governor, chief minister and the Railways minister, Federal Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal, Board of Investment Chairman Mifta Ismail, parliamentarians and senior officials.
The PM said the government had put the country on the path of prosperity and development by adopting business-friendly policies and hard work.
When the PML-N government, he said, took office in 2013, the country faced many problems, including terrorism, economic decline and energy shortage. The government, however, took it as a challenge and worked tirelessly to overcome the problems.
The PM said law and order situation in Karachi had significantly improved and business activities returned to normal. He appreciated the role of law enforcement agencies in maintaining the law and order situation in the port city.
The prime minister said the economic progress of Pakistan had been acknowledged by international financial rating agencies.”Pakistan is now termed an attractive destination for business and investment,” he added.
As a result of investor friendly policies of the present government and the economic turnaround achieved in the last four years, various reputable international investors and companies had shown a keen interest in exploring business and investment opportunities in Pakistan, he added.
The prime minister said, the country had now achieved macroeconomic stability and was focusing on achieving higher sustainable and inclusive growth.
Gross domestic product was recorded at 4.7 per cent in the financial year 2016, which was eight years high, he remarked.
The government, he said, was also improving energy mix to ensure availability of clean and affordable energy to the masses.
While referring to investment policies, the prime minister said the country had improved its ranking by four points on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Index.
“We have identified potential sites along the CPEC routes for the establishment of Special Economic Zones that would offer tremendous business opportunities,” the prime minister added.
The government had introduced the new Automotive Development Policy that focused on enhancing competitiveness and provision of quality products, he concluded.
Sixty percent construction work of the first-phase of Gwadar Free Zone has been completed.
In an interview with ‘China Daily’, Deputy General Manager of Gwadar Free Zone Company, Hu Yaozong, said Chinese and Pakistani engineers are working round the clock to open the free zone for operation as early as possible.
He said the free zone is a key step towards developing Gwadar Port into an important regional hub that will benefit not only south Asia, but also Central Asian and Middle East countries.
Hu Yaozong said the second-phase construction of the free zone is featured with a huge stainless steel factory which would create a number of jobs for locals.
He said besides Chinese and Pakistani investors, a lot of investors from other countries have also shown keen interest in business opportunities in the free zone.
The free zone is spread over 923 hectares of land and will be developed in four phases.
The Zone has specially been designed to take advantage of Balochistan’s rich fishery and mineral resources by developing relevant industries for overseas market and light industry for domestic consumption.
ISLAMABAD: In a bid to capitalise on the rise of regional integration, a Malaysian delegation on Wednesday expressed its interest to help develop projects like ferry service operation, construction of dedicated terminals at Pakistani ports and establishment of industry in the Gwadar port free zone.
Both countries agreed that a joint working group on maritime cooperation of Pakistan and Malaysia may be established.
These decisions were reached at a meeting held between a high level delegation headed by former Prime Minister of Malaysia, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, and Pakistan’s Minister for Port and Shipping Mir Hasil Khan Bizenjo. The visiting delegation included leading industrialists and businessmen. The meeting discussed potential avenues of investment and explored possibilities of joint ventures in Pakistan’s shipping sector.
The visiting delegation was briefed by Bizenjo about ongoing projects being executed by the ministry and the future plans for development of the maritime sector.
Minister for Ports and Shipping emphasised on the importance of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and Gwadar Port, stating that the port held a central place in CPEC and would be a transshipment hub in the future.
He said the government had announced incentives, including income tax and customs duty exemptions for the Gwadar Free Zone Area. Participants of the meeting were briefed that the ministry had taken an initiative to allow the public and private sector to start the ferry service to facilitate tourists and pilgrims to Iran and the Middle East. This would stimulate economic growth through the tourism industry.
It also discussed that modern dedicated terminals for liquefied natural gas (LNG), coal and clinker and containers have been completed at Karachi Port and Port Qasim.
The delegation was also apprised that Pakistan had announced complete tax exemptions for import and registration of ships.
Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reform Ahsan Iqbal on Sunday rejected the notion being projected by vicious elements suggesting a demographic change in Gwadar and other areas due to the influx of people in the coastal areas, saying the government will protect the social, economic and legal rights of the people of Balochistan province.
“The people of Balochistan have the right on their resources and the government will protect all rights of the people of the province. The notion being projected by vicious elements suggesting a demographic change in Gwadar and other coastal areas is a part of blatant lies,” he said while talking to the workers and youth activists of the Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) from Balochistan.
The minister hoped that Gwadar would soon be enlisted as a centre of modern education with completion of an international standard university in this port city. “The days are not far away when students from across Pakistan as well as other part of the world will get education and professional trainings in Pakistan especially in Balochistan,” he added.
Bringing industrial revolution and turning Pakistan into trade hub were the goals of the government which were set to be achieved under this multi-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). “Projects in energy, infrastructure and port development will provide a base to industrialisation of the country,” he said, adding that “Made in Pakistan” would be considered as a sign of high quality and standard soon.
He stated that 85 million jobs were up for grabs in China due to relocation of the Chinese industry that has lost their competitive advantage because of rise in cost of operation. “The CPEC presents an opportunity to Pakistan to grab major share of the available jobs which can help employ the unemployed surplus labour. People particularly the educated youth should not care about the propaganda but try to grab this opportunity as much as possible,” he added.
He told the delegation that work on Gwadar Master Plan was in progress to make this city a world modern port city. “Like Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai, Gwadar will soon be a centre of world investors and business associations,” he said. The construction of the Gwadar Airport would be starting this year which would prove another milestone in the development of this remote region, he said.
The minister said that further Gwadar to Quetta and Gwadar to Rathodhero roads construction have ensured better connectivity and opened a new era of development in Balochistan. He said that the world narrative about Pakistan has completely changed with converting CPEC dream into a reality and transformation of Gwadar as a new centre of development in the region.
In 2013, enemies were terming Pakistan as the ‘most dangerous country’ and now they were hatching conspiracies to create hurdles and halt CPEC’s success but they will have to see a failure, he remarked. The whole nation has decided to protect the CPEC and the connectivity being provided through road infrastructure and development projects has ensured mainstreaming of Balochistan, leading to eradicate sense of deprivation of the people for the first time in the history, he said.
Ahsan stated that there was complete consensus among the federating units where the federal and the provincial governments were working jointly to ensure speedy implantation of CPEC projects which has brought a historic opportunity for the private enterprises of Pakistan. “It is their duty to take maximum advantage of the industrial cooperation being planned under CPEC. The establishment of economic zones would bring maximum employment for local youth,” he said.
“Enemies of CPEC are the enemies of Pakistan who cannot digest the remarkable success we achieved by converting CPEC agreement from a piece of paper into a billion dollars investment projects. The 50 billion dollars project has emerged as a leading project of regional cooperation, which is paving way for peace, prosperity and development of Pakistan and the Asia region,” he concluded.