A town in Sargodha district, best known for its orange orchards, is about to get an industrial park of its own, speeding up the already rapid urbanisation process throughout Punjab.
Bhalwal, a city of close to 350,000 people, is known as the hub of orange exporters in Pakistan, supplying over half of the country’s orange exports. Over the past few years, as global commodity prices have gone up, the export sales have brought increasing prosperity to the city, creating a pool of surplus capital waiting to be deployed.
The Punjab government appears to have noticed, setting up the Bhalwal Industrial Estate, created and managed by the Punjab Industrial Estate Development and Management Company (PIE), a firm created by the provincial government to facilitate industrial growth throughout Punjab.
At the inauguration ceremony of the estate on Monday, PIE Chairman SM Tanveer, himself a member of a leading industrial family in the province, said that the Bhalwal Industrial Estate, once complete, can be expected to contribute as much as Rs10 billion to the gross national product, directly creating over 50,000 jobs and may indirectly create jobs for as many as 2.5 million people.
Located approximately 5 kilometres outside the city, on the Bhalwal-Bhera Road, the industrial park stretches over 358 acres, and is geared towards serving mostly small and medium enterprises. Of the 240 industrial plots in the park, 228 will be one acre or less.
The industrial estate will provide a wide array of infrastructure and services, including all utilities, security, banks, medical and emergency services, waste management solutions, etc. Most importantly from the perspective of budding industrialists, PIE will offer to manage the relations between all government departments and the companies that set up industrial units in the park, ensuring that businesses can function smoothly with minimal government interference. The PIE website describes the estate as “an island of facilitation in a sea of harassment.”
PIE is currently working on two other industrial estates, one in Rahimyar Khan and the other in Multan. The company plans to set up an industrial park in each of the 36 districts in Punjab. PIE relies entirely on funds it raises through the banks and capital markets, and the profits it makes from selling units in its industrial parks. The structure is designed to make PIE independent of government influence.
PIE has so far completed only one industrial park, the Sundar Industrial Estate, which recently underwent an expansion.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 17th, 2012.