‘Rashakai SEZ has potential to become Pakistan’s economic hub’

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ISLAMABAD:
China and Pakistan on Friday negotiated in detail on the development progress and marketing plans for Rashakai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and other matters of mutual interest.

China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) Vice President Sun Yaoguo and his delegation called on Chairman Board of Investment (BOI) Atif Bokhari at the BOI office.

Both sides also discussed the interest of Chinese enterprises in Rashakai. In the meeting the vice president of CRBC informed that development work of Rashakai SEZ is being carried out at a fast pace and to that end respective teams have already been mobilised, according to a BOI statement.

He highlighted that aggressive marketing of the SEZ to local and foreign investors is crucial for its speedy occupation and operationalisation.

He further said that the standard of services combined with the attractive incentives offered by the Pakistani government, Rashakai has the potential to become a hub of economic activity.

Additionally, Rashakai SEZ is the flagship project of CPEC and its success will further strengthen industrial cooperation between Pakistan and China.

BOI Chairman Bokhari while welcoming the delegation, praised CRBC’s “impressive work” in the Rashakai SEZ.

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He concurred with Sun for perusal of an aggressive marketing campaign that effectively highlights the monetary benefits for investors.

In this regard the chairman BOI appraised the delegation about approval of two major incentives for SEZs i.e. custom and duty exemption on capital goods and elimination of 1.5 per cent turnover tax.

He applauded the work being carried out by CRBC in Pakistan and assured the delegation that BOI will support CRBC in coordination with relevant departments and ministries as well as offering assistance within BOI’s mandate.

BOI looks forward to closely working with CRBC to not only facilitate their progress in Pakistan but also to jointly work towards Pakistan’s fast paced industrialisation.

He also shared that domestic companies have shown keen interest in setting up enterprises in the Rashakai SEZ and desired that this should be looked into.

On a suggestion from CRBC to effectively communicate with the Chinese business community about incentives and sectors for investment, Bokhari agreed and further suggested that he will part of a webinar on the issue.

He emphasised that both sides need to focus and work towards expediting the relocation of Chinese Industry in the Special Economic Zones.

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During the meeting, Sun also briefed about CRBC’s mega project in Karachi.

The Karachi Coastal Comprehensive Development Zone in collaboration with Ministry of Maritime Affairs aims at developing Karachi as regional hub for economic activity while simultaneously generating employment opportunities for millions and bringing in sizeable FDI.

Vice President Sun thanked the chairman BOI for his time and also assured of CBRC’s dedication for successful execution of the ongoing projects.

Review meeting

Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar chaired a meeting to review the progress on the development of of Rashakai Special Economic Zone under CPEC framework in Islamabad on Friday.

Chairman CPEC Authority Lt gen (retd) Asim Saleem Bajwa, representatives from K-P BOI and senior officials of the federal and provincial governments attended the meeting.

The meeting was apprised of the progress of work in SEZ, especially regarding supply of gas and electricity to the zone.

It was informed that 10MW electricity is available for Rashakai SEZ while the transmission line for another 160MW is under construction and will be completed by November 2021. A further addition is also planned for 2022.

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The Sui Northern Gas Pipelines Limited (SNGPL) representatives informed that work on the gas supply of 30MMCFD to Rashakai SEZ is underway and scheduled to be completed by the end of December.

The representatives of the developers informed that the first unit, steel plant was under construction and would be soon importing its plant and machinery.

In the first phase, they plan to set up their first unit with an investment of $79 million to produce 500,000 tonnes of rebar/construction steel.

Whereas in the second phase, they intend to set up their second unit for production of industrial steel with an investment of $77 million and the total investment for three phases will be $42.2 million.

Representatives from the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and BOI conformed that all the incentives under the SEZ Act are available to the potential investors in the zone.

The planning minister directed the relevant ministries to ensure completion of their respective task within timelines. He also directed planning division to carry out implementation monitoring of the various activities related to the SEZs.

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