Govt striving to boost industrial capacity: Asad

Pakistani Finance Minister Asad Umar speaks to the media during a press conference after stepping down from his ministry, in Islamabad on April 18, 2019. - Pakistan's finance minister Asad Umar has stepped down, he announced on April 18, with no replacement yet named as Islamabad seeks a crucial bailout deal with the International Monetary Fund. (Photo by AAMIR QURESHI / AFP)

The government is focused on boosting Pakistan’s industrial capacity through joint ventures in priority areas, relocation of labour-intensive export-led industry, SMEs collaboration and enhancement of vocational training capacity, Federal Minister for Planning, Development and Special Initiatives Asad Umar said on Thursday.

The minister was talking to a delegation of Rawalpindi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (RCCI) — led by its president Saboor Malik — which called on him in his office.

The minister highlighted that only in December, the government spent Rs75 billion out of the Rs97bn on development schemes in the country under the Public Sector Development Projects (PSDP).

“The PTI government is determined to establish four special economic zones (SEZs) in all provinces,” he said.

“These SEZs would enable setting up of joint ventures in manufacturing which would integrate the enterprises from both sides. It is important for Pakistan’s manufacturing industries to become part of the global value chain by partnering with Chinese companies,” he added.

The businessmen enquired about their role in the SEZs as well as the business relationship between Chinese and Pakistani investors.

“There has been a detailed talk with the Prime Minister about reducing interest rates, hopefully in coming months this will start to come down,” the minister said, adding that the business community was a key player in the development of the country.

He noted that in the first phase of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), the infrastructure and energy projects are either completed or near completion.

“The private sector can participate in CPEC projects under the public-private partnership. Provinces have been instructed to expedite development projects,” he said.

Umar urged the RCCI delegation to come up with a three-year roadmap for industrialisation and export sector strategy by March 2020.

Speaking on the occasion, RCCI president said the chamber should be consulted for SEZs.

Mr Malik said an Expo Centre in Rawalpindi was a long-standing demand of the chamber.

“The government should allocate old airport building for industrial exhibition centre in Rawalpindi or provide space along the proposed Ring Road project at Rawat,” he demanded.

RCCI Group leader Sohail Altaf highlighted the relationship issues between the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and the business community and urged the minister to play his role to solve the matters.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2020