ISLAMABAD: Senators’ reservations may delay the passage of the Special Economic Zone Bill, 2010 which was designed to encourage domestic and international investors by setting up new economic hubs in the country.
Lawmakers across party lines have agreed to introduce some changes in the proposed legislation to engage people who want to invest at the micro level for promotion of industrial infrastructure. The draft law encompasses an incentive package and policy framework for establishment of special economic zones (SEZs).
Chairperson Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice Senator Kazim Khan said the bill might be misused by wealthy industrialists in a meeting convened to discuss its pros and cons on Saturday. Passing the bill in its current form may lead to a race among the wealthy to acquire state land on lease, he added.
“Therefore, industries which are not generating jobs for people must be excluded from tax exemption and public interest should not be compromised in any way.” The bill aims to promulgate a law for development of special economic zones through legal provisions to create new industrial hubs.
“Some crucial amendments which define zone admission criteria should be added to it,” Senator Saeeda Iqbal told The Express Tribune. “The proposed bill does not serve the purpose of generating more jobs for people.”
Lawmakers, who attended the panel meeting, advised Chairman Board of Investment (BOI) Saleem Mandviwala to remove obstacles in the way of foreign investors. “Encourage seasoned investors rather than promoting new experiments in business,” said Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz Senator.
Mandviwala informed the committee that obstacles could not be removed because they served the interest of several ministries. “Self-regulatory organisational culture has caused irreparable loss to industry,” he said. “New legislation may improve the status quo.”
The committee decided to invite heads of chambers of commerce and industry to the next meeting and solicit their input. It has also asked the BOI to give an update on Small Industrial Zones in the next meeting. Chairman Senate Farooq H Naek had referred the bill to the Senate Standing Committee on Law and Justice when it was first introduced in the Senate in July.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 3rd, 2011.
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