Punjab soon to be transformed into a prosperous province
Spending spree on Lahore infrastructure during the last few years has placed the city at par with growth-triggering cities of the world. Fast building of transport, industries and state-of-art business centers are the further evidence of city’s modernization. The City of Lahore is emerging fast both as a trading hub because of the huge potential the Wagah border offers and as an industrial center because of the ease with which the industrial workers could be brought to the industrial zones.
The City of Lahore is the second largest financial hub of Pakistan after Karachi and has industrial areas including Kot Lakhpat and the new Sundar Industrial Estate near Raiwand, while Metro bus service brings over 100,000 workers daily to the peripheries of Lahore from where they are picked by the transport of the industries to their workplace. This has reduced the transport that industrialists earlier had to deploy to bring workers from different areas of the city.
Nishat Group has reduced its bus fleet from 320 to 20. The previous fleet used to consume 150 minutes daily to bring the workers to the factories and it took the same time to drop them home. Now they reach the factories in 45 minutes through Metro service and save 200 minutes amid leisure with their families.
On the other hand, the Orange Train would provide similar facilities to workers from other parts of the city where Metro does not operate.
These projects are much better than building huge projects. Orange Train project would generate huge economic activities.
Experts, however, warn that the non-availability of industrial land in and around Lahore would nullify the advantage of best investment destination acquired by the city on the strength of extensive road and transport infrastructure and assured availability of power in two years.
According to senior vice president Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Almas Hyder said all these efforts would go in vain if hurdles are created in establishing industries in and around the city.
In fact, he added the Lahore Development Authority (LDA) is demanding commercialization fee of up to Rs160,000 per marla to regularize industries established at its arteries like Ferozpur Road, Multan Road, Shiekhupura Road, Gujranwala Road, Raiwind Road, Raiwind Lalliani Road and Sua Asil Road. This fee, he added is being demanded now, when the boundaries of LDA have been extended to these areas. He said since these regions are mostly populated by industries, the government should declare these regions as industrial zones. He said demanding exorbitant commercialization fee from already established industries spread over 10-20 acres is unjust. He said there are 64 marlas in one acre and at Rs160,000 commercialization fee would be over Rs1 billion per acre. The industries would close down, which would defeat the purpose of building state-of-the-art infrastructure.
He further said the spare land in these industrial zones should be auctioned for new industries only. He said presently there is no land available, officially, in or around Lahore which can be used for industrialization. The city is growing faster than the average growth in population and the average growth in GDP. “We need to create opportunities of employment otherwise it will breed chaos,” he warned, adding that it is time to recognize, regularize, and declare these roads as industrial corridors.
He said once this is done, the LDA can plan infrastructure and develop labor colonies, social security hospitals, technical training institutes etc. Lahore, he added will become a centre for industrial investment and a much better and cleaner city.
Vision turned into reality
Sundar Industrial Estate comprising 1,750 acres of land was inaugurated in Feb, 2007 and is a vision turned into reality. It is the first project assigned to PIE & was envisioned to be an ‘island of facilitation in the sea of harassment’ for prospective industrialists. The objective was to develop an industrial estate where issues of industrialists are handled and problems solved through ‘One Window’ operation.
According to Punjab Industrial Estates Development and Management Company (PIEDMC) Chairman S. M. Tanveer, the company has achieved many landmarks of excellence, the credit for which goes to the joint efforts of the industrialists investing in our industrial estates and untiring efforts of the PIE management. He said the private sector entrepreneurs who are setting up industries are our most valued asset. They have therefore been my priority. All efforts would be made to make their job easy. “We have to endeavor on two fronts first, to provide maximum help to genuine industrialists and secondly to urge those who are lagging behind to put up industry.
NHA CONSTRUCTED/ REHABILITATED ROADS
Source: PAGE-Research Department
Welcoming the adding of five industrial estates of PIEDMC in Special Economic Zone under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor program (CPEC), Tanveer said, “It would boost the industrialization process in the Punjab province, particularly in the Southern parts.” He said the credit goes to the Chief Minister Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif for winning the status of special economic zone for five PIEDMC industrial estates under the CPEC. It would lead to creation of more than 150,000 jobs and billions of rupees investment in respective industrial estates, he added. “The province of Punjab would fast transform into a prosperous province with this single step,” he added.
Tanveer further said the federal government has upgraded the status of five industrial estates of PIEDMC to special economic zone, which included Multan Industrial Estate Phase-II, 450-acre Rahim Yar Industrial Estate, 400-acre Bhalwal Industrial Estate and Mianwali, Rawalpindi and Dera Ghazi Khan industrial estates under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) program. The machinery imported and the income generated in these special economic zones would be duty and tax exempted for next 10 years, he said.
Top business destination
According to the Lahore Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) President Sheikh Muhammad Arshad, Pakistan is rapidly gaining the status of hub of trade and economic activities due to liberal economic policies of the present regime and days are not far when Pakistan will be top priority of the foreign investors.
The LCCI President said that China has played a fundamental role in economic uplift of Pakistan and the people of Pakistan consider China a savior as it had extended best cooperation to Pakistan at all testing times.
It may be noted that Pakistan is 4th largest producer of milk and cotton, 9th largest producer of wheat, 10th largest producer of rice, 7th largest producer of fruits and ranked 10th as far as labor force is concerned. Geographically, Pakistan is situated at one of the best places of the world.
Foreign investor can make their way to the landlocked Central Asian states and countries of the South Asia through making investment in Pakistan. Priority sectors where investors can make investment include oil and gas, mining, infrastructure, power (coal, hydel, gas-based), IT & telecom, chemicals (fertilizer (urea), glass, PV & polymers), value added. The more areas of investment are textile manufactures, engineering goods, textile machinery, electronics, automotives, agricultural & agro-based industry, pesticides, cool chains, food & fruit processing and packaging, livestock & dairy farming.
Sheikh Mohammad Arshad said that China is one of the largest trading partners of Pakistan and it is expected that bilateral trade between Pakistan and China will touch the figure of $ 15 billion within the next few years. Although Pakistan’s exports to China have been gradually increasing, the trade has always been in favor of China.
He said that due to excellent economic policies of China and the hard work of Chinese leadership, China has become a big economic force in the world now, he added.