PM approves establishment of 10 special economic zones in four provinces

Published March 5, 2020
PRIME Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting on privatisation on Wednesday.—APP
PRIME Minister Imran Khan chairs a meeting on privatisation on Wednesday.—APP

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday at two separate meetings approved establishment of 10 special economic zones (SEZs) in the four provinces and privatisation of 33 state entities/lands during current fiscal year.

According to the PM Office, five of the 10 SEZs will be established in Punjab (Bhalwal, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Vehari and Allama Iqbal SEZ), two each in Sindh (Naushahro Feroze and Bhulari) and Balochistan (Bostan and Hub) and one in Khyber Pahtunkhwa (Rashakai).

Presiding over a meeting of the board of approval for the SEZs, Prime Minister Khan said the purpose of establishment of special economic zones was to provide facilities and incentives to the business community.

He said the government was committed to providing ease of doing business and favourable environment to the business community to generate economic activity in the country.

Privatisation of 33 state entities, lands also okayed

The Board of Investment (BoI) secretary informed the meeting that 13 SEZs had so far been notified while work on setting up 12 more in the public sector and six in the private sector was in progress.

The meeting was told that after approval of law for the SEZs in 2012, only seven special economic zones were set up in the country till 2018, while the incumbent government had notified six new zones in a single year (2019).

The BoI secretary said that the process of amending the law for increasing incentives in the SEZs had almost been completed.

The meeting was briefed about the industries to be set up in the new special economic zones. The meeting decided that all matters about the SEZs’ establishment would be resolved in consultation with the provincial governments.

The meeting also decided to provide facilities of electricity and wheeling of power transmission to power generation industries in the special economic zones.

The prime minister directed the authorities concerned to set up a working group comprising the ministers for planning and energy, the commerce adviser and others for the establishment of the SEZs, and making the required laws and regulations easier to provide facilities to the investors and businessmen.

The working group will submit its recommendations about the special economic zones to the prime minister.

Minister for Planning Asad Umar told the meeting that work was in progress to formulate an economic growth strategy regarding Gilgit-Baltistan, which also included progress of the industrial sector.

The prime minister stressed the need for utilising the tourism potential of Gilgit-Baltistan and establishment of special economic zones there.

The meeting was also attended by Leader of the House in Senate Shibli Faraz, Minister for Energy Omar Ayub, Adviser on Finance Dr Hafeez Shaikh, Commerce Adviser Abdul Razak Dawood, KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, GB Chief Minister Hafiz Hafeez ur Rehman, Special Assistant to the PM on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, Special Assistant Nadeem Afzal Chan, BoI Chairman Zubair Gillani, KP Finance Minister Taimoor Zafar Jhagra, Punjab Minister for Industries Mian Mohammad Aslam and senior officials.

Privatisation

Prime Minister Khan also chaired a separate meeting on privatisation which gave approval for privatisation of 33 state entities/lands which would be completed this year.

These entities are: two RLNG power plants, SME Bank, Services International Portal, Lahore, Jinnah Convention Centre, Islamabad, besides 27 government lands.

The PM said that privatisation of non-profitable institutions and unused government properties was in the national interest as it would reduce burden on the national exchequer and provide financial resources for social and welfare development projects.

The meeting was attended by Asad Umar, Minister for Privatisation Muhammadmian Soomro, Hafiz Shaikh, Razak Dawood, Adviser on Reforms Dr Ishrat Hussain, Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan, the Privatization Division secretary and senior officials.

The Privatization Division secretary briefed the prime minister about the progress on privatisation of various government institutions and properties.

The prime minister was told the seven privatisation transactions would be completed by May and June by this year.

PM Khan said that all possible effort must be made to complete the process of privatisation in the stipulated timeframe. “Inter-ministerial coordination should be further improved so that quick action is taken on all unresolved affairs and all hurdles are removed,” he said.

Published in Dawn, March 5th, 2020

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