President, Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), Shamim Ahmed Firpo has said that there is a need to bring more transparency in all affairs of China Pkistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to reduce the apprehensions in the private sector of Pakistan.
He expressed these views while addressing a Consultative Session on ‘CPEC Challenges and Opportunities’ held at KCCI jointly organized by Prime Minister’s Office, Board of Investment (BoI) and Ministry of Planning Development and Reform in collaboration with KCCI.
Firpo said, “CPEC is gaining the attention of entire world. It is not a game changer rather it has changed the game and this is reflected from the fact that now almost all prominent hotels in Karachi are occupied 100 percent.”
He said, “CPEC would also bring a revolution in physical infrastructure, energy and human resources. It would also help Pakistan in technological advancement and with a great infrastructure it would improve connectivity.”
“CPEC has the capacity to accelerate the local economy by increasing the demand for locally-manufactured goods. Such increase in demand will not only allow full utilization of the existing manufacturing potential, but will also encourage the manufacturers to increase their capacity. It will generate much needed employment opportunities, and will also contribute a sizeable amount of revenue to the national exchequer as well as transfer of technology,” he added.
Shah Jahan Shah, Additional Secretary, BoI while addressing the session thanked KCCI for their hospitality and fabulous arrangements. He highlighted that, “For Pakistan, the development in trade and industry is the main gain from CPEC as a driving force for economic growth and taking the fruits of CPEC to all segments of the society.”
“Industrial Cooperation is that component of CPEC, on which the sustainability of whole CPEC project is dependent. The role of private sector is more crucial and important in this phase of CPEC,” he said.
Shah expressed the view that, “Transparency is very much there and Government is committed to facilitate the private sector in their endeavors. Whatever information is available is being shared with the private sector rather private sector is a part and parcel of each such initiative.”
Hassan Daud Butt, in his presentation gave an overview of CPEC, its projects and progress on these projects. He briefed that, “The enhancement of geographical linkages having improved road, rail and air transportation system. This will enhance people to people contact and understanding through academic, cultural and regional knowledge. This corridor will be instrumental to make Pakistan hub of trade, investment and energy.”
He apprised the participants that, “Progress on early harvest phase has been outstanding and we are expecting the same spirit for the medium and long term projects. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a shift in strategy to integrate China with the rest of Asia, Europe and Africa, and in the process, build infrastructure across these regions to boost economic growth of the region and definitely create a win-win situation for China along with the participants in the project and progress on CPEC is encouraging till now.” He also informed the house that, “Information on CPEC website www.cpec.gov.pk is being updated on daily basis.”
Zuhfran Qasim, Director (Policy and Planning) Prime Minister’s Office, BoI gave a detailed presentation on Special Economic Zones (SEZs). He highlighted the framework and role of BOI in SEZs. He explained the additional incentives under re-location of industries from abroad along with policy guidelines.
Qasim highlighted that, “Relocation of Chinese industry to Pakistan will not only enhance the low-skilled labour-intensive market’s production efficiency in Pakistan, but will also be eventually instrumental in technology transfers, channelizing the economies of scale, and adding value to the production chains in various sectors like agriculture and industry.”
Qasim emphasized that, “Pakistan needs a shift from resource-based and low technology exports to the adoption and development of medium- and high-technology productions, and technological sophistication. Almost 80 percent of Pakistan’s exports are resource-based items.”
Naheed Memon, Chairperson Sindh BoI and trade stressed that, “China has 50 years vision and CPEC provides a golden opportunity to Pakistan to get Chinese expertise and partnership to become competitive. We should always think CPEC as an opportunity. With regards to Dhabaji China Special Economic Zone (CSEZ).”
She pointed out that, “This Zone has well connected area and population and it makes commercial sense to trade and export through this zone. Dhabji is extension of city of Karachi, which is Pakistan commercial and financial hub.” Memon shared with the participants the current status of development of CSEZ and future development plan of this zone.
Members of KCCI asked many questions which were answered satisfactorily. Project Director (CPEC) and Additional Secretary BOI requested KCCI management to nominate two Research Officers from KCCI as focal persons to coordinate with CPEC Secretariat and BOI to cater the suggestions of the Chamber. More than 100 members of the Chamber as well as Tony Yang, Consular Attache, Consulate General, China attended the session.
After question and Answer session, Muhammad Younis Soomro, Vice President, KCCI concluded the session and thanked officials of BoI and Ministry of Planning Development and Reform, Government of Sindh, DG (BoI, IFC) Karachi, Nasreen Ali, Tony Yang, Consular Attache, Consulate General, China for their active participation and expressed the hope that such sessions are required to be held frequently to have the feedback/input from private sector. He also thanked members of the Chamber for their presence and participation.