KARACHI: The cost of labour in Pakistan is two times less than that in China, which makes the former an attractive destination for Chinese capital, according to Khalid Man­soor, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister (SAPM) on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Delivering a presentation at the Pakistan Stock Exchange on Friday, Mr Mansoor said China is witnessing a scarcity of skilled labour because of its internal migration trends. Its human resource problem is accentuated because of the one-child policy that was in place until recently. In contrast, Pakistan’s population is fairly young and growing, which makes the local workforce more affordable for Chinese investors.

Mr Mansoor said various projects under CPEC were progressing at a fast pace alongside the development of nine special economic zones (SEZs) as well as a free zone in Gwadar. He dispelled the impression that SEZs give preference to Chinese investors, adding that German and Dutch businesses along with a large number of local companies have invested in these zones to benefit from a range of fiscal incentives.

“Our vision under CPEC is of export orientation plus import substitution to make Pakistan a manufacturing hub,” he said.

Following the conclusion of the early-harvest stage of CPEC (2015-20) that solved the energy deficit problem, the ongoing phase is focused on developing manufacturing and industrial capacities until 2025, he said. The final phase, which will begin in 2025, will ensure that CPEC-propelled economic growth is long-term and sustainable, he added.

The SAPM noted power plants of 5,300 megawatts are already in place while projects of 3,500MW will become operational within the current calendar year. Power plants of another 4,000MW are in the planning stage, he said, with new capacities mostly in the renewable segment.

He said 26 per cent development work for the international airport in Gwadar has already been achieved. The government has built the 1,800-kilometre Karakoram Highway and laid an optic fibre line of 820-km under CPEC, he said. Slum dwellers in Machar Colony will be relocated in a respectful manner to develop the Karachi Comprehensive Coastal Development Zone at a cost of $3.8 billion, he added.

Mr Mansoor highlighted that the one-window operation to help foreign investors has eliminated the need for seeking as many as 37 separate approvals required under the previous system.

Published in Dawn, January 15th, 2022

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