SBI accuses centre of violating SEZ Act 2012

Govt approved three SEZs in Punjab without providing utilities to ones earlier in Sindh.

Our Correspondent June 16, 2016

KARACHI: Sindh Board of Investment (SBI) Chairperson Naheed Memon has accused the federal government of violating the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Act 2012 by approving new SEZs in Punjab without providing utilities to the already approved SEZs in Sindh.

“The federal government should first provide all utilities guaranteed under the SEZ Act 2012 to the already approved SEZs in Sindh before giving approval to the new ones since there is shortage of electricity and gas in the country,” she said, in a press release.

The SEZs in Sindh have not been provided utilities since their approval in 2014. They include the Khairpur Special Economic Zone (KSEZ), Bin Qasim Industrial Park (BQIP) and the Korangi Creek Industrial Park (KCIP).

The Khairpur Special Economic Zone is being established alongside the eastern route of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as a value-addition hub. It is being developed to provide state-of-the-art platform for multiple value-added industrial units, which will strengthen the economy, create jobs and reduce poverty in the northern part of Sindh.

Development on the overall infrastructure is almost 95% completed. In order to boost exports, the federal government had passed the SEZ Act 2012 to establish SEZs in different parts of the country.

The federal law (SEZ Act 2012) guarantees the provision of gas connection to the approved SEZs. In addition, the Article 158 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan provides legal cover that the discovery of any natural resource must first benefit the area where the discovery has been made.

The matter of gas connection has been raised many times with relevant federal ministries, namely; the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Resources and the Board of Investment Islamabad.

The authorities, however, have not taken any step to resolve this matter.

According to article 27-(1)-(i) of SEZ Act 2012 on public utilities and transportation links, “Unless provided otherwise in the development agreement, it shall be the responsibility of the federal government to ensure the provision of gas, electricity and other utilities at the designated zero point of each SEZ.”

The heads of BoI of all provinces were present in the meeting where the BoI Islamabad Chairman Miftah Ismail approved the applications submitted by Punjab for the three new SEZs despite objections and non-endorsement of the Sindh government.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 16th, 2016.


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