Hub industries in Balochistan deserve status of SEZ

Amanullah Khan

Karachi—The second phase of Hub Industrial area deemed fit for the status of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to encourage and promote industrialization in Balochistan. This was stated by Ismail Suttar, President of Lasbela Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), who urged the government to declare Hub Industrial and Trading Estate (HITE) Phase 2 as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ). The SEZs are designated areas with special economic regulations, which are conducive to foreign direct investment. The economic activities in these well defined geographic areas are promoted by a set of policy measures not applicable to the rest of the country like receiving tax incentives and the opportunity to pay lower tariffs.
“We have seen China undergo an exponential economic growth by executing this idea and now it has more than 38 such zones in the country. Pakistan established SEZ Act in 2012 and according to the law, the federal or provincial governments can either themselves set up an SEZ or they can achieve it in collaboration with the private sector”, Ismail said adding that Sindh and Punjab have had 3 zones each declared as SEZs in their provinces but Balochistan has not been fortunate enough. It has been overlooked once again. HITE Phase 1 in Balochistan started with only a couple of industries. Over a quarter of a century the area saw rapid growth and now consists of more than 300 industries including the industries in the marble city an area developed by the LCCI and LIEDA without any government funding. Hence, it has an already established infrastructure for a thriving industrial area in HITE. Any amenities lacking like road, electricity and water can be developed quickly in the area within ninety days.
The growth of the industrial area has brought huge economic development to Balochistan. One does not need to wonder what economic benefits the development of HITE Phase 2 would bring to the province and subsequently the country since we already have a successful example in front of us. There is also a massive potential for foreign investment, which is very important for Pakistan, if we make it lucrative for investors to set up an industry by declaring the area as SEZ. The HITE Phase 2 area has more than four hundred acres of land available to be used for setting up industries and becoming an SEZ would offer access to high quality infrastructure, power supply, public facilities and support services China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is expected to be a game changer for the entire region and has a potential of $46 billion investment in Pakistan. Balochistan deserves a slice of that investment and establishing HITE Phase 2 as SEZ would ensure a share in it.
The government is considering 5 sites to be declared as SEZ along the western route of CPEC in Balochistan but they already have an established industrial region at their hand in HITE. Why build something from scratch when there is an area at their disposal which they can just hone with lesser effort and expenditure of money and it would be more worthwhile. Why not give a chance to a region which has already shown huge success and growth even without the economical benefits that being an SEZ would bring.

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