Foreign nationals’ security being beefed up, NA body told

Published August 26, 2021
The committee, while receiving the briefing on security measures for projects under CPEC framework, maintained that issues faced by Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in terms of security measures affected businesses. —White Star/File
The committee, while receiving the briefing on security measures for projects under CPEC framework, maintained that issues faced by Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in terms of security measures affected businesses. —White Star/File

ISLAMABAD: The government on Wednesday informed the National Assembly Committee on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) that the security of foreign nationals was being beefed up.

“It is important that incidents such as the terror attacks on Chinese nationals in Dassu and Gwadar are not repeated,” chairman of the parliamentary committee MNA Sher Ali Arbab told Dawn.

The in-camera meeting of the parliamentary committee was briefed by officials from the ministries of Planning, Development and Special Initiatives, Defence, officials from the Board of Investment, Power Division, Petroleum Division, Railways, Federal Board Revenue (FBR), officials from the SNGPL, and SSGC and other stakeholders, regarding security measures for projects under CPEC framework, Mainline-1 (ML-1) project with special focus on electric traction (ET) component and updated progress on special economic zones.

The committee, while receiving the briefing on security measures for projects under CPEC framework, maintained that issues faced by Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in terms of security measures affected businesses.

“Measures which can boost businesses in Pakistan should be made our top priority. Economic stability will lead to peace and security in Pakistan,” Sher Ali Arbab said adding that the goals envisaged under CPEC could not be achieved without local ownership.

“Issues faced by locals in terms of security arrangements should be resolved at the earliest to secure local ownership of CPEC projects,” the chairman committee said.

During the meeting members also sought an audit report on the three special economic zones after some lawmakers believed that progress on these zones was slow.

“The special economic zones are priority areas of the CPEC. The CPEC portfolio was vast, where various projects are on track while others are facing issues,” said Sher Ali Arbab.

The committee observed that the establishment of special economic zones would be futile, if industries were not installed there timely. The issues pertaining to sale and cancellation of plots in SEZs needed to be resolved at the earliest in order to expedite the process of establishing industries in SEZs.

The committee emphasized on the need to move towards ease of doing business to attract local and foreign direct investment in Pakistan. The committee highlighted that quarters concerned should incentivize industries in SEZs in such a way that SEZs established in Pakistan could compete with other countries in the region.

Moreover, apart from focusing on agriculture and industrial sector, the untapped potential in tourism should also be exploited. A lot of revenue and employment opportunities could be generated by establishing integrated tourism zones in the country under CPEC framework.

Members observed that the world was increasingly moving towards adoption of modern technologies. Adding electric traction component in Mainline-1 (ML-1) project after eight to ten years would become obsolete and costly.

Published in Dawn, August 26th, 2021

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