ISLAMABAD, Feb. 17: The government’s top officials say Rashakai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) will be a game-changer project for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, as it will uplift the economy and provide great opportunities to investors.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Board of Investment and Trade (KP-BOIT) and a former project director of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Hassan Daud Butt, while talking to WealthPK, said that after the completion of formal procedure, 12 enterprises besides a Chinese company have been given approval to start development work on their allotted plots in Rashakai SEZ.
China’s Century Steel has already invested $50 million for setting up a steel plant in the first phase at Rashakai SEZ and it is expected that it will bring more investment in future.
“These enterprises have been allowed to start development work as per regulations. Most facilities including external walls, roads, and electricity have been provided, while gas will be provided in December. Among these enterprises, some are big Chinese companies and some are Pakistani enterprises. Most entities are sole enterprises and there is one joint venture,” Hassan Daud Butt said.
To a question, he said Rashakai SEZ, a joint venture between Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zone Development and Management Company (KPEZDMC) and China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC), is a game-changer project for KP, and it will create huge economic benefits for the country. He said that depending on the investment, the Rashakai SEZ is likely to create about 40,000 to 200,0000 employment opportunities for the locals.
“We are promoting export-led industry to increase the country’s exports. Local industry will also be upgraded because big Chinese companies will invest in this SEZ and local industries will get the chance to get direct interaction with them,” he said.
Opportunities for investors
The Rashakai SEZ is providing great opportunities for investors because Pakistan is a huge market with a population of about 220 million, including the 37 million population of KP.
If investors invest in the production of consumer products, it will give them good benefits. “Opportunities are available here in consumer-led industries including agri-based, textile, food and beverages and others. It is also suitable for labour intensive high-tech industry,” Mr. Butt said, adding that the Chinese enterprises can mobilise their manufacturing units in Pakistan to take benefit of cheap local human resources and market.
A senior official of the Board of Investment (BoI) told INP-WealthPK that Pakistan has a very liberal investment policy and there is no restriction on investment in any sector. He said the BoI facilitates promote investment and help in resolving the issues of investors. He said Rashakai is a multi-industry economic zone, and any kind of industry can be established in it. He said investors can establish steel, iron, food processing, agriculture and other units in the Rashakai SEZ.
“Local and international enterprises have started investing in the SEZ, and total volume of investment is being compiled. Here, projects will get tax exemptions on import of capital goods, and the government has also exempted turnover tax for 10 years,” he said.
The official said the developer of the SEZ is bound to provide all basic facilities including electricity and gas. He said local, Chinese and other international investors can invest in the zone.
Spread over the area of 1000 acres, Rashakai prioritised SEZ as a flagship project under the industrial cooperation of CPEC framework that serves as CPEC SEZ. This 1,000 acres SEZ is being developed by CRBC in a joint venture with KPEZDMC.
Located on Motorway (M1) near the CPEC route, it is 60km away from Peshawar to the west and 90km away from Islamabad to the east. Distancing 800km from Khunjerab Pass in the north, 111.6 km from Torkham border, and 39.6km from Azakhel Dry Port gives Rashakai a unique strategic advantage to serve the consumer markets of KP, Punjab, Southwest China, Afghanistan, and Central Asia. Based on the location advantage and resource pool, the economic zone has predominant investment feasibility for the industrial clusters or sectors including processing and manufacturing, home appliances, pharmaceutical, home building materials, automobile and parts, agriculture and horticulture, wholesale market or specialty mills.
Benefits for Pakistan
Rashakai SEZ will start a new era of industrialisation in Pakistan.
Experts see it as a game changer for KP, and it will be equally beneficial to uplift national economy. The smooth completion and operationalisation of this zone will promote industrialisation in KP.
It will create thousands of job opportunities for the locals and raise the quality of life of the people. Local industry will also be upgraded with the modern technologies and expertise of Chinse and international brands. It is likely to turn KP into a trade and investment hub. It will increase exports and help Pakistan to achieve durable growth and sustainable development.