Sindh Minister for Industries and Commerce, Jam Ikramullah Dharejo, announced that the Sindh government is planning to establish new industrial zones across the province, primarily in Karachi, as part of a new industrialisation policy.

The aim is to attract both local and foreign investors and businessmen to boost economic activities throughout the province.

He made these remarks while addressing the business community at the Federal-B Area Association of Trade and Industries (FBATI) on Tuesday. Dharejo highlighted that industrial zones are being considered at various locations, including the Port Qasim area, to enhance industrial activities and employment opportunities in the province and its commercial capital.

Additionally, the provincial government is planning to allocate funds in the Annual Development Plan (ADP) to develop the required infrastructure across the seven industrial zones in Karachi, aimed at facilitating existing industrialists in the province.

Furthermore, Dharejo mentioned that his ministry is working to introduce one-window operations for industrialists to promptly resolve their issues. Conversely, provincial departments such as the Sindh Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), Stamp Duty, and Employees’ Old-Age Benefit Institutions (EOBI) are being directed to facilitate industrialists rather than disrupt their business activities.

The minister mentioned that the provincial government is in discussions with the federal government to ensure the provision of natural gas and electricity to the province’s residents and industries in accordance with constitutional rights.

He also stated that the government plans to introduce a public-private partnership to promote the establishment of combined effluent plants in industrial zones, as per the requirements of exporting countries.

President of FBATI, Syed Raza Hussain, stressed that the provincial government should maintain collaboration with industrialists through monthly meetings of the industry liaison committee to effectively address industry challenges.

He noted the limited availability of industrial land in Karachi, which has hindered the establishment of new industrial units despite demand in various sectors. He suggested that the government should devise an affordable financing scheme for industrialists who own land in industrial zones but lack the capital to expand their operations.

FBATI FITE Development and Management Company CEO, Babar Khan, highlighted that Chinese investors are interested in establishing industrial units in Karachi but are hesitant due to the city’s inadequate facilities, deteriorating infrastructure, and security issues. He also noted that several companies in Sindh are contemplating relocating their operations to Punjab, attracted by the availability of affordable land, abundant water resources, and necessary infrastructure.

Khan proposed the establishment of an industrial belt stretching from the outskirts of Karachi to major cities in Sindh to accommodate industrial activities across the province, providing necessary infrastructure and utilities for investors.

In response to the minister’s plans and policies, eminent industrialist and former president of the Site Association of Industry (SAI), Riazuddin, expressed concern to The Express Tribune about the state of the largest industrial zone in the country, SAI.

He highlighted its deteriorating road infrastructure and lack of proper facilities despite its significant economic contribution. Riazuddin urged the government to prioritise the development of five unattended industrial zones in Sindh, including Dhabeji, Site-3, and Larkana, which have seen minimal progress since their inception.

Regarding one-window operations for industries, Riazuddin referred to guidelines from the World Bank and the UN aimed at facilitating business in Sindh. He pointed out the need for implementing these guidelines to streamline processes and provide financial assistance to businesses.

Furthermore, he mentioned a project entrusted to the Sindh Investment Department by the World Bank, the Competitive and Liveable City of Karachi (CLICK), which remains stagnant despite its preparation in December 2022.

He urged authorities to allocate funds promptly to renovate the dilapidated infrastructure of all seven industrial zones in Karachi without further delay.

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