LAHORE: The Punjab Industrial Estates Development and Management Company (PIEDMC) has decided to expedite work on new business parks across the province to ensure access of entrepreneurs to developed industrial land — the shortage of which is one of the major impediments to attracting fresh private investment and export growth.
According to media, as part of its new strategy to create developed industrial land, the PIEDMC is going to revive the 1,836-acre Quaid-i-Azam Apparel Park near Lahore and fast-track development of the 483-acre Bahawalpur Business Park.
According to the new PIEDMC chairman, Syed Nabeel Hashmi, the work on both the business parks is expected to be launched in March next year.
The apparel park project was conceived back in 2013 in order to attract Chinese firms to relocate their apparel manufacturing facilities in Pakistan. But the project hit a long delay because of bureaucratic lethargy and other factors despite acquisition of 1,536-acre land in 2014. The revival plan will include bifurcation of the park to accommodate investment in and establishment of other non-textile industries as well.
The total project cost is estimated to be Rs27 billion, which includes a Punjab government loan of Rs14.55 billion. The remaining funds are to be raised by the PIEDMC through the sale of developed land to private investors. The government has already given Rs6.55 billion to the company, out of which Rs5.55 billion has been spent on land acquisition and other non-development expenses since the launch of the project.
“We need an additional (loan of) Rs8 billion from the government to start development of infrastructure. We have requested the government to give us Rs4 billion this financial year and the remaining next year so that work on the development of the estate could start,” Mr Hashmi said. The energy requirements for the estate are estimated to be 240 megawatts of electricity and 65mmcfd of gas.
The completion of infrastructure facilities at the Bahawalpur Business Park will cost Rs4.6 billion and the PIEDMC requires Rs1.5 billion loan from the government to launch it. The government has allocated just Rs250 million for the project in the Annual Development Programme for the ongoing fiscal year.
Apart from fast-tracking work on the apparel and business parks, the PIEDMC has also decided to carry out a survey of 32 districts to finalise locations for new industrial zones according to the local industrial requirements. The development industry in each district will create tens of thousands of new jobs for local population close to their home and slow down migration to bigger cities.
“The objective is to create two million direct industrial jobs and boost exports by promoting labour-intensive cottage, small and medium enterprises across the province in as little time as possible. For this we need to develop 24,500 acres of net usable industrial land, 5,000MW electricity and 600mmcfd gas,” the PIEDMC chairman said.
The successful launch of these projects nevertheless hinges on financial support from the provincial government, which has already slowed down development investment in addition to drastically cutting its size.