Probably Pakistan would not be that much economically dependent on Karachi as an industrial and financial capital as Balochistan is on Lasbela – a district that gives 90% of industrial output and 70% of revenue generated by the province.
Lasbela district is located on the southern coast of Balochistan, adjacent to western borders of Karachi. Its proximity to Karachi and its ports has been the single most important factor for its industrialisation.
“Infrastructure and industrial development of Lasbela means the development of Balochistan because of its overwhelming impact on the economy of the province,” Managing Director of Lasbela Industrial Estates Development Authority (LIEDA) Noor Ahmed Samoon told The Express Tribune in an interview.
Samoon, a 19th grade officer of the District Management Group (DMG), believes the district has all the potential to attract investors owing to its cheap land and 24-hour electricity and gas supply.
At a time when Karachi is facing one of the worst phases of security concerns, the industrial areas of Lasbela district are relatively calm. But, perhaps, the word Balochistan carries an additional baggage of security fears with it that unfortunately overshadows even the brightest prospects the province holds.
Planned industrialisation of Lasbela started 29 years ago, when the Government of Balochistan established LIEDA in 1984 to eradicate poverty. LIEDA then developed five industrial estates in the district along the RCD Highway that connects Karachi to Gwadar and Karachi to Quetta.
Today, there are over 300 industrial units in these five estates, of which 202 are operational. But what is important is that these units produce revenue of over Rs11 billion in sales tax and income tax that makes up over 70% of the revenue for Balochistan.
The manufacturing units include big names like Proctor & Gamble Pakistan (Private) Limited, Attock Cement, Byco Petroleum, etc.
Like industrial areas of Karachi, security has been one of the biggest concerns for the business community in Lasbela district.
“We know that security is one of the biggest concerns faced by the investors. For this, we have effectively used the police and FC to control land grabbing and other crimes to allay the fears of the business community in the last few years,” said Samoon, who has also served for 18 months as the deputy commissioner of Lasbela.
Lasbela attracts workers and migrants from all over Balochistan mainly because of irrigated land and job opportunities in industries. To meet the growing demand for electricity and water, the Government of Balochistan is working on a 50-megawatt power plant and supply of additional water from Hub Dam – the lifeline for irrigated land and industries of Lasbela.
The biggest association of the business community in Lasbela district is the Lasbela Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) that has over 150 members. Most of the LCCI Industrialists that spoke to The Express Tribune said they were satisfied with the efforts of the provincial government to maintain law and order in the district.
The industrialists said one of the biggest satisfactions for them was the regular supply of electricity and gas in the district that many of their counterparts wish to have in Punjab and other northern parts of the country.
The district is also extremely important for Balochistan because of its marble industry, one of the few indigenous industries of the province. Unfortunately, the mineral-rich province has virtually no presence of marble industry in any other parts.
Almost all the marble industry of the province is concentrated in Lasbela within its Marble City Gaddani – a project spread over 238 acres of land situated some 23 kilometres from the western boundary of Karachi that was inaugurated in 2005. The importance of marble city can also be gauged from the fact that over 90% of marble exports from Balochistan are from Lasbela.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 7th, 2013.
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Correction: In an earlier version of this story, Lasbela Association of Trade and Industry was incorrectly mentioned as the biggest association of the business community in Lasbela district. The error has been fixed.
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