AN industrial park is proposed to be set up in Karachi to facilitate growth of an export-oriented Halal business, according to a concept paper prepared by the Sindh Board of Investment.
The park will be a cluster of Halal businesses/industries built in a special zone where they will be provided infrastructure and Halal-related support services. For this purpose, the SBI has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Halal Industry Corporation (HDC), Malaysia in December, 2010 at Kaula Lumpur.
Malaysia is one of the key players in global Halal sector, others being Australia, Brazil, Thailand, India etc.
But the concept paper on the park does not say where the park will be set up and whether there are enough Halal businesses coming up to justify such an ‘industrial estate.’ Recently, the federal government banned export of Hilal meat and livestock when their foreign sales had started picking up. At least there is no consistency in government policies for Hilal meat businesses to prosper.
Then it is not known whether the existing industries and businesses would like to relocate their premises to the Hilal park.
Besides, given the current situation, it would be not be an easy to procure utility services for the park any time soon. The PIDC has been engaged for several years to set up a modern industrial estate which has yet to get water and gas connections.
Such plans need to be rooted in ground realities and not in borrowed ideas to avoid wasting taxpayers money in counterproductive pursuits. It is also a tall talk to promise exclusive port facilities for land, sea and air with the Railways and PIA becoming dysfunctional and inland transport becoming too costly.
The main objective of the SBI and HDC collaboration is to create awareness about Halal business, set Halal certification and standards and develop a Halal park to promote trade through business match making. Much of this work can be done without setting up of a park.
No doubt Halal industry is a fast emerging business across the world, attracting both Muslims and non-Muslims, because of its wholesome, hygienic, and contamination-free process in food production. The global value for trade of Halal foods and non-food products is estimated at $1.2 trillion per annum. The Halal industry embraces pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and other consumer goods, food services, finance, logistics and even tourism.
Sindh Board of Investment concept paper says park has been conceived to provide the Halal industry a competitive advantage, by incorporating the following features: (a) Its location is nearest port/highway for accessibility b) presence of government authorities/park management team to cater for the need of the investors/producers that includes land, technical training centre and laboratory for analysis, infrastructure facilities with such utilities as electricity, water, gas telecommunication (c) presence of investment and licensing authority (d) exclusive village/club, and (e) 24 hour security and protection.
The paper maintains that the real innovation in creating Halal parks is the bringing together of ideas, concepts, and practices involving industrial parks development, food parks development, food manufacturing, Halal traceability and logistics into a totally new Halal system of infrastructure; with this integrated approach, each addition to the system enhances the value of the other element/components of the process.