ONE of the biggest problems facing Pakistan’s economy is inflation. The average citizen now finds it challenging to make both ends meet due to rising prices for basic needs. However, there are potential solutions that can help alleviate this problem. One such solution is to use un-used land through a PPP (Public-Private Partnership) model. PPP can be an effective tool for utilizing un-used land for development projects.
Public-Private Partnerships is an agreement between the government entities and private companies to work together to provide public services or infrastructure. The PPP has the potential to contribute to a nation’s development by leveraging the strengths of both the public and private sectors such as improved infrastructure, increased investment, enhanced service delivery, risk sharing and innovation.
Pakistan has a large amount of un-used land that can be used for various purposes. Through a PPP model, the government can lease this land to private investors for a period of 10-15 years, with the option to renew the lease. The investors can then use the land for various purposes, such as affordable housing schemes, industrial and commercial projects, tourism projects, agriculture projects, renewable energy projects, parking lots, fuel stations, hostels and universities. The benefit of this approach is two-fold. First, it generates revenue for the government through lease payments. Second, it creates job opportunities for the citizens which can help stimulate the economy.
Pakistan is facing a shortage of affordable housing, and PPPs can help address this issue by developing low-cost housing projects on unused land. Private sector companies can bring in expertise in construction and management, while the government can provide land and regulatory support. The unused land can be utilized for the development of industrial parks, commercial zones, and other economic projects. This can help create jobs, boost economic growth and attract investment.
Pakistan has significant potential for tourism development, and unused land can be utilized for the development of tourist resorts, hotels and other infrastructure. PPPs can bring in private sector expertise in tourism development and management. The vast tracts of arable land, and PPPs can help improve agriculture productivity by developing irrigation systems, providing training and technical assistance and improving supply chains. The significant potential for renewable energy includes solar and wind power. PPPs can be used to develop renewable energy projects on unused land with private sector companies providing financing and technical expertise and the government providing land and regulatory support.
Parking lots are in high demand in major cities of Pakistan. The un-used land can be used to construct parking lots which can help alleviate the issue of traffic congestion and provide a source of revenue for the government. Petrol pumps can also be constructed on the leased land which can provide employment opportunities and ease the burden of rising fuel prices for the public.
Hostels and universities are also in high demand in Pakistan. The lack of affordable accommodation and quality education has forced many students to forgo higher education. By using the un-used land for the construction of hostels and universities, the government can provide affordable accommodation and quality education to students which can help bridge the education gap.
It is important to note that the success of PPPs in utilizing Pakistan’s un-used land depends on several factors, including the quality of the agreement, the strength of the private partner and the ability of the public sector to effectively manage and regulate the partnership. Additionally, careful planning, monitoring and evaluation are essential to ensure that these projects contribute to Pakistan’s development in a sustainable and equitable manner. The PPP model is a viable solution to overcome inflation in Pakistan. It is essential for the government to consider this approach and take steps towards its implementation.
—The writer is contributing columnist.