DESPITE acquiring the status of special economic zones, the Bin Qasim Industrial Park and the Korangi Creek Industrial Park are in a state of limbo.
The National Industrial Parks (NIP) Development and Management Company, a PIDC subsidiary, has yet to provide the investors here with utilities, specially gas and power, and the promised ‘one-window’ services.
In order to fully reap the benefits of the SEZ Act 2012, facilitating agencies like the Sui Southern Gas Company, K-Electric, Sindh Building Control Authority and the Cantonment boards need to work in tandem. However, the concerned agencies are functioning in isolation.
As a result, the Korangi Creek Industrial Park (KCIP) is without power and gas — lifeline utilities required for the functioning of any industrial unit. Besides, there have been inordinate delays in the approval of building
plans by the Cantonment board, which is impeding the colonisation of the industrial zone.
The commissioning of industrial units at the KCIP would lead to employment, tax revenue for the national exchequer and socio-economic development.
There are a number of attractive provisions in the SEZ Act, but they are of little use unless every government institution and organisation gets on the same page to facilitate investors
The SEZ Act clearly says: “The federal and provincial governments shall ensure the provision of power supply at a stable frequency to the designated zero point of each SEZ. The developer shall be responsible for the transmission of electricity from zero point of the SEZ to every plot/facility within the SEZ. The same applies for gas and water.”
The Act further says: “All SEZs shall have adequate internal road infrastructure and shall have external road connections that link the SEZ to major modes of transportation such as highways, airports, and ports, as required, to support the intended industries. In this regard if existing roads are inadequate, the federal and provincial governments shall ensure adequate road access to the SEZ.”
There are a number of such attractive provisions in the SEZ Act, but they are of little use unless every government institution and organisation gets on the same page to facilitate investors.
If the Board of Investment (BoI) should have discussed the pros and cons of its rules and regulations with the stakeholders, like power, gas and water supplying agencies, to make things work. It should also have first applied these rules to a designated, ‘model SEZ,’ and then keeping in view the operation of that particular zone, tried to establish other SEZs on the same pattern. It would then be in a better position to utilise the benefits of the Act.
Our economic gurus and managers know full well that SEZs are the most effective vehicle to bring foreign direct investment into the country.And yet nothing is being done to make the SEZs a success.
“The SEZ should be the ‘buzz word’ of policy and strategy dialogues on everything, including the business environment, customs regulations, rules for business, investment promotion, land zoning, and the primacy of private entrepreneurship over public enterprise,” said an economist.
Meanwhile, the NIP has also failed to provide ‘one-window’ facility to investors owing to the non-cooperative attitude of the relevant government agencies. The main goal of a single window operation is to increase the efficiency through time and cost savings for the investors in their dealings with government authorities for obtaining relevant approvals and permits.
In a traditional setup, investors have to contend with cumbersome visits and dealings with multiple government agencies in multiple locations to obtain the necessary documents, permits, and clearances to construct buildings and get power, water, gas and telephone connections etc. A one-window operation can only be successful if all the concerned government agencies and utility companies are liaised to achieve the desired results.
Published in Dawn, Economic & Business, April 27th, 2015