- PM says Centre to equally share in ‘equalisation package’ for Gwadar to help alleviate poverty
- CM Bizenjo emphasises inclusion of locals in journey of development
- Pakistan, China sign five agreement, one MoU
GWADAR: Pakistan accomplished yet another milestone on Monday and transformed the “dream of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) into a reality” by making the Gwadar Economic Free Zone operational, so as to optimally achieve the potential of the port city.
The prime minister along with Balochistan chief minister, Azad Jammu Kashmir president and others, jointly pressed a large button to unfurl a huge red and green banner, covering the front gate of the economic free zone, amid applause of Pakistani and Chinese nationals, gathered at the inauguration ceremony.
Spread over 60 acres, Gwadar Free Zone will be operated by China Overseas Port Holding Company, which has also set up a Business Centre for the handling of operations. The Business Centre will provide a one-window operation for matters including immigration, customs, visa operations and port clearance facilities.
Daily necessities and small household appliances, fishery, stone processing, machinery manufacturing and metal processing are the main introduced industries. The Free Zone will adopt tax exemption policy in the development of bonded logistics.
Inaugurating the Free Zone and Expo 2018, PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi reiterated that the ongoing policies of economic development would continue, no matter which party forms the next government.
The prime minister termed the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) a “game changer” and said the potential of Gwadar has been fully realised, owing to the vision of President Xi Jinping and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. He said due to the dedication and hard work of Pakistani and Chinese teams, both the CPEC and Gwadar were heading towards a bright future.
PM Abbasi mentioned the ongoing modernisation of the railway system from Karachi to Peshawar, Khunjerab to Gwadar, upgrading of the road network, building of necessary infrastructure, building of power projects and setting up of Special Economic Zones (SZEs) [under CPEC] to bring prosperity through generation of economic activity and increase in exports.
He said that connectivity through Gwadar, the new motorway networks would not only bring prosperity to the Central Asian States, western China, Afghanistan and Pakistan, but also strengthen Chinese President Xi’s vision of Belt and Road Initiative.
He said that Gwadar was the most visible section of this vision and termed it the most important contribution of the Chinese president for the future generations. He said the CPEC projects were based on financial viability and environmental sustainability and bringing prosperity.
He appreciated the Gwadar Port Authority, Gwadar Development Authority and the Chinese partners working on the project and said it would bring prosperity to Balochistan, Pakistan on the whole and the region as well.
Addressing the challenges faced by poverty-stricken Balochistan, the prime minister said the future of the province was in the hands of its political leadership, and only they can solve the issues of the province.
He, however, said the federal government would equally share in the equalisation package for Gwadar so as to provide quality services in health, education, and other social sectors for the people of Balochistan.
Under the “equalisation package”, the federal government would share half the development cost in every district of the province, including the establishment of hospitals, education and other facilities. In this regard, he said, funding for each district of Balochistan would start this year.
“The package will ensure the provision of equal facilities in all districts of the province to achieve the target of sustainable development goals,” said Abbasi.
In addition, PM Abbasi visited a stall of Karachi Shipyard and Engineering Works (KSEW) at Gwadar Expo 2018— the two-day conference and exhibition aimed at providing a platform for Pakistani and Chinese businessmen.
Pakistan Navy Fleet Tanker Project Officer Commodore Salman Ilyas informed the prime minister about the progress of the on-going shipbuilding projects at KSEW.
Speaking on the occasion, Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Qudoos Bizenjo said Gwadar Expo was a significant step towards the economic development of the port city of Gwadar and Balochistan. However, he asserted that local people must not be left out in the fast-paced journey of development.
Minister for Planning and Development Ahsan Iqbal said completion of first phase of Gwadar Free Zone was a major milestone towards achieving inclusive and sustainable development in Balochistan in line with Pakistan Vision 2025. He said Gwadar port and the free zone projects were demonstration of the time-tested friendship between Pakistan and China.
Federal Minister for Maritime Affairs Hasil Khan Bizenjo said the main objective of holding the Gwadar Expo 2018 was to highlight the significance of Gwadar, to promote its port and free zone as emerging business hub, and to provide a platform of interaction between local, regional and international business entrepreneurs.
China Overseas Port Holding Company Chairman Zhang Baozhong said Gwadar Free Zone was the demonstration of the hard work of the governments of Pakistan and China, which was a project of prosperity for the two nations.
He said Gwadar Free Zone during initial construction and production phase (year 2018-23) would provide job opportunities for over 38,000 people and would help in increasing Pakistan’s trade volume, Foreign Direct Investment and national economy size.
PAK, CHINA INK FIVE AGREEMENT, MOU:
Following the inauguration of the Gwadar Free Zone, Pakistan and China inked five agreements and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for strengthening collaboration between Gwadar and the Chinese port cities.
Agreements were signed declaring Pakistan’s Gwadar and China’s Tianjin as sister ports, and Gwadar and Piung as sister cities. Another agreement was signed for close cooperation among Pakistan State Oil (PSO), GITL and Gwadar.
The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and China’s Free Trade Zone Company signed an agreement for cooperation in their respective field. Another agreement was signed between Gwadar and HATA Trade City. The MoU on Gwadar Poverty Alleviation Initiative was inked between Gwadar district government and China Overseas Ports Holding Company.
The event was attended by Azad Jammu Kashmir President Masood Khan, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Zubair Mahmood Hayat, Chinese ambassador to Pakistan Yao Jing and members of the federal and provincial cabinet.