Gwadar is destined to be a great project in years to come or a game changer in the entire in its real sense for that Balochistan government has exempted Gwadar Free Zone from provincial taxes for five years and decided to set up special economic zones and new industrial estates in the province. A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the provincial cabinet on Friday.
A duty-free zone along the lines of the Dubai and Singapore models, expert and shipping gurus rule out any direct competition with regional free ports, but say those setting up industries will have most to gain from the tax exemption.
Gwadar will have an edge over other regional free ports due to lower labour costs. Chief Minister Balochistan Jam Kamal Khan Aliyani on Monday chaired the 6th Special Zones Authority meeting here in Quetta expressed optimism that SEZ would intensify economic activities in Balochistan.
“The Special Economic Zones under China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would gear up business activities in Balochistan and would end unemployment from the province.” CM Balochistan said while addressing the meeting.
Special Economic Zone (SEZ) would attract foreign as well as local investment giving a big boost to the exports of the province.
For this Federal Government should help provincial government to build a decent infrastructure for future economic development by building roads, highways, technical training centres at large scale for developing human resources, providing communication, electricity and natural gas in all four corners of Balochistan. Without the basic infrastructure, the special economic zones will be meaningless and they will be useless in economic terms. Balochistan had experienced this by establishing Industrial Estates in the past. Most of the Industrial Estates established in various parts of Balochistan proved failure and it failed to boost industrial and economic development in a significant way. That is why the Government had decided to convert the Industrial Estate of Gwadar into a special economic zone to accelerate development process in Gwadar in the current phase or after a lapse of more than a decade.
It is worth mentioning that the area is famous for the world’s finest varieties of prawns, lobster and fish and therefore SEZ would provide special attraction for investors in processing, preservation, packaging and export of Seafood. Further, the adjoining area is famous for good quality dates, more than 130 varieties, and the industry for processing and export of the food item can find SEZ a viable place for establishment.
No one can deny the added significance of Gwadar for its strategic location of immense geo-political importance. It is worth to mention that the vital sea-lanes particularly shipping oil from the region to outside world pass behind Gwadar and the completion of this port can bring about revolutionary changes in the development of this area and economy of the country.
Excluding the Chah Bahar in Iran, Gwadar will be the only free port between Dubai and Colombo, which will provide container storage and warehousing facilities. It definitely will attract the shipping companies moving cargo to and from land-locked countries of Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
There is no denying the fact that Gwadar would be the future hub of commercial activities and would emerge as mother port of the region.
Gwadar deep-sea port will revive trade links between China and Central Asian States extending Cargo facilities to both. It will help Pakistan earn a substantial amount in transit fee. It has huge potential in the sector of transit and transshipment trade. It will provide the nearest approach to the warm waters to both Central Asian states and Western China. The provincial government of Balochistan is of the view that turning these special economic zones into trade zones, which will eventually bring down the prices of the petrol commodities. The approach of the provincial government of Balochistan will open the golden gates for Pakistan and Balochistan.