Prime Minister Imran Khan performed on Friday the commercial launching of the ‘Rashakai Special Economic Zone (RSEZ)’ in Nowshera, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, a landmark project of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
Addressing the launching ceremony, the prime minister said that the country had passed difficult times and expressed the hope that it would achieve the projected 4% gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate on the back of the upward trajectory of the national economy.
The RSEZ is a landmark project of CPEC that would help attract direct foreign investment, ensure inclusive economic development in Khyber Pakthunkhwa and also create significant jobs opportunities for the youth and skilled workforce.
For its close proximity to Afghanistan and the route to the Central Asian States (CARs), the RSEZ would accelerate pace of economic and industrial development and take the country’s exports to new heights and turn Khyber Pakthunkhwa into a hub of trade and investment.
In his speech, Imran stressed the need for increasing exports for sustainable economic development and bolstering industrialisation to generate employment opportunities as well as attracting foreign direct investment (FDI).
“Through such industrial zones, we can elevate our exports and that will help us avoid a current account deficit, ultimately avoiding a dependence on the IMF [International Monetary Fund],” the prime minister said, in reference to the RSEZ.
“Pakistan is blessed with all natural resources. Pakistan has the potential to achieve new heights of economic progress like China by promoting export-oriented income-generating industries and small and medium enterprises sectors,” the prime minister told the ceremony.
“We can take benefit from China’s expertise and the RSEZ can provide unique opportunities to our domestic investors to learn from Chinese investors,” he remarked, adding that the government was removing all the bottlenecks in the way of attracting more investors from across the globe.
Giving an overview of the national economy, Prime Minister Imran said that when the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government took over in August 2018, the country was burdened with a huge current account deficit of around $20 billion.
“Now, in the last 8 to 10 months the current account is in surplus due to our prudent economic policies. The government has achieved about 4% economic growth rate this year that has unnerved our political opponents,” he added.
The prime minister declared the government has come out of the difficult economic situation and the country’s economy was showing upward trajectory with increased foreign exchange reserves and record remittances from the overseas Pakistanis.
He also appreciated the assistance of brotherly countries, including China and Saudi Arabia to help the country pass through the difficult economic situation. “This country is now on the path to progress. The economy has started to grow,” he said.
“Large-scale manufacturing is growing rapidly, which is the biggest indicator of growth,” Imran said. “The growth rate has amazed even our rivals, who previously accused us of destroying the country. Now, they accuse us of lying,” Imran continued.
“I want to tell them, I didn’t come to power through rigging. Unlike you, I’m the captain who brought a neutral umpire,” he quipped. “We achieved record growth in agriculture and made sure that the farmers are given their due share.”
Imran mentioned a record sale of vehicles, including motorcycles, tractors, and fertilisers was witnessed, adding that the sugar mills were bound to make quick and full payments to farmers, contrary to the past governments.
As a result record production of wheat, maize, sugarcane and rice was achieved this year that brought prosperity in the lives of the farmers. He urged the overseas Pakistan to send their remittances through banks and invest it in special economic zones like Rashakai.
The prime minister said his government’s anti-coronavirus policies had been globally lauded. “On one side our government protected the nation from the fatal corona disease and on the other, from starvation and hunger by adapting the smart lockdown policy.”
He assured that the rights of landowners would be protected and economic zones’ lands would be provided on lease. “Our priority should be to facilitate the investors as much as possible, as it will bring more investment in the country.”
The ceremony was also attended by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Shah Farman, Chief Minister Mehmood Khan, Chairman CPEC Authority Lt-Gen (retd) Asim Salim Bajwa, provincial ministers, Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong, Chinese and Pakistani investors and other officials.
Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador Nong said that the RSEZ would help strengthen the economies of both the countries and promote business activities. He said that the diplomatic relations between Pakistan and China spanned over 70 years and these would grow in the future.
Read more: Rashakai SEZ to attract investment
Rashakai Special Economic Zone is part of CPEC cluster. It is a flagship project of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zone Development and Management Company (EZDMC), which will create 200,000 job opportunities.
Spreads over 1,000 acres and linked to the CPEC route on the M-I Motorway and other districts of the province, the project is also strategically significant. It will house different industries, including pharmaceutical, textile, food and beverages and steel and engineering.
The construction of the RSEZ is being carried out with the collaboration of China’s state enterprise, the China Road and Bridge Corporation and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Economic Zone Development and Management Company.
(WITH INPUT FROM APP)