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Rebooting industrialisation : Corruption rampant in industrial estates

Rebooting industrialisation : Corruption rampant in industrial estates

Rebooting industrialisation : Corruption rampant in industrial estates
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LAHORE: Industrial estates or the Special Economic Zones are facing several problems, which is hampering industrial growth in the biggest federating unit of the country.

Though developed and new estates have different issues, still there are a number of common problems that are disturbing the existing industries and new investors.

Entrepreneurs running factories in developed industrial estates in Lahore such as Quaid-e-Azam Industrial Estate Kot Lakhpat and Sundar Industrial Estate have complained about low gas pressure and no gas not only during the winter season but also in the summer season. Also, there are complaints of corruption not only in the industrial estate management and the Punjab Industrial Estate Development and Management Company (PIEDMC) but also in the government departments such as the Lahore Electric Supply Company and Environment Protection Agency (EPA).

The absence of joint waste treatment plant is also a major issue in the already developed and colonialised industrial estates, forcing the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to face harassment even after spending huge amount on the affluent treatment plants.

Those intending to establish units in the new industrial estates are still waiting for proper infrastructure development and the availability of utilities.

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The Punjab Small Industries Corporation (PSIC) is managing the affairs of 21 small industrial estates through their board of managements. Most of these are facing problems of joint treatment plants and dilapidated infrastructure.

“Accusing the government for all the ills is not justifiable. There is no issue of political will, as the government desires to promote industrialisation. The real issue is nepotism, while placing people in the board of management of industrial estates and PIEDMC or FIEDMC,” a chairman of the board of management of a industrial estate said.

“Unavailability of financial resources is a major problem,” he added.

Minister for Industries and Commerce Mian Aslam Iqbal said that industrialisation is the key to economic revival and progress of the country.

The infrastructure of two major projects, Quaid-e-Azam Business Park, Sheikhupura and Allama Iqbal Industrial City Faisalabad, would be completed during the current year.

He said he is personally supervising the development work and colonialisation of the new estates.

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Similarly, the Faisalabad Industrial Estate Development and Management Company (FIEDMC) is managing the affairs of three industrial estates, special economic zones, M-3 Industrial City, Value Addition City and Allama Iqbal Industrial City.

The M-3 Industrial City is located on Motorway M-4 at Sahianwala Interchange, VAC spreading over 225 acres at Khurrianwala on Faislabad-Sheikhupura and Allama Iqbal Industrial City at Sahianwala Interchange on Motorway.

This priority SEZ has been designed on international standards to fulfil the needs of the Chinese industrialists.

The PIEDMC is managing eight industrial estates/SEZs, Quaid-e-Azam Business Park, Sheikhupura on Lahore-Islamabad Motorway, Quaid-e-Azam Industrial Estate Kot Lakhpat, Sundar Industrial Estate, Multan Industrial Estate, Rahim Yar Khan Industrial Estate, Bhalwal Industrial Estate, Vehari Industrial Estate and Bahawalpur Industrial Estate.

The Quaid-e-Azam Business Park, having 200 acres of land dedicated for a labour colony, is linked with all the major cities, seaports and dry ports through a network of National Highways and a dedicated interchange on Motorway.

Sundar Industrial Estate, Lahore is the most developed, accommodating over 500 factories.

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Likewise, Quaid-e-Azam Industrial Estate is one of the largest planned industrial estates, spreading over an area of 565 acres. It houses units of textile, dyeing and printing, auto parts, pharmaceuticals, food, household appliances, plastic ware, chemicals, rubber/foam and cosmetics.

Rahim Yar Khan Industrial Estate is an ongoing project, spread over 456 acres to reap benefits of wheat, cotton, sugarcane, mangoes, citrus, dates, and livestock.

Bhalwal Industrial Estate is just 15km from M-2 Motorway between Salam and Bhera Interchange. Spreading over 427 acres, it is in the best citrus producing area of the world. It is planned to cater to the food processing units, including juices, jams, jellies and snacks, citrus grading and cold storage.

Vehari Industrial Estate is a new project, spreading over 251 acres to accommodate industries such as cotton ginning, textile, laundry and toilet soap plants, flourmills, food and beverages, milk processing and dairy products.

The Bhalwal Industrial Estate will be developed over 483 acres of land, keeping in view the need of the region producing sunflower, cotton, mustard seed and sugarcane. Moreover, Bahawalpur region yields big amount of wool. Hence, the estate is a good option for the textile industry, including weaving, spinning, processing and printing.

Also, wool processing and weaving unit has strong potential in the area. Oil extraction and solvent extraction plants will also be profitable.

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However, industrialists complained about the lack of facilities at the estates and slow pace of infrastructure development at the new ones.

Willshire Laboratories, an export-oriented pharmaceutical manufacturing unit at QIE Kot Lakhpat, Chief Executive Officer Amjad Ali Jawa said: “The lack of common waste treatment plant is the major problem at QIE and many developed and fully colonialised industrial estates. Installation of a plant is not in sight, despite availability of around 10 acres of land.”

“There is no issue of political will, as the government is focusing on industrialisation. The PIEDMC staff is cooperative and providing proper guidance to those entrepreneurs intending to set up units at the new industrial estates.”

“The real issue is dead slow pace of infrastructure development and provision of related utilities,” he said, adding that the condition of establishing a unit within two years after the final approval was also unrealistic.

“How one can complete construction and start production within two years when there is no road infrastructure and other utilities?” He asked.

“The failure to make a unit functional within two years after the approval can lead to imposition of fine and denial of tax exemptions,” he said, while referring to the concerns of one of his friends intending to set up a unit at the Quaid-e-Azam Business Park, Sheikhupura.

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The government has yet to give already announced dedicated interchange to the park at the Motorway, he added.

KND and Sons Chief Executive Officer Khwaja Shahid Nasir said that PIEDMIC and the board of management of the industrial estates are doing a good job. But corruption at government departments is a major issue.

“You can’t get any work done without giving bribe at the government departments such as Lesco and EPA,” he added.

Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry former senior vice president Shahad is running dyeing, processing and stitching unit at the Quaid-e-Azam Industrial Estate.

“Extremely low gas pressure is also a major problem. We have no alternative but to use coal as a fuel. It’s not good for the deteriorating environment,” he said, adding that the government should intervene and resolve the issues being faced by the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), which are backbone of any economy.

“Holding the government responsible for all the ills is a big injustice. Yes, the pace of infrastructure development in new industrial estates is slow but it is due to the lack of financial resources,” said Shahad Azam, chairman of the board of management of SIE, Lahore.

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“On getting power, the people appoint blue-eyed in the board of management. There is a need to avoid nepotism and placing right persons in the BoM,” he said, adding that the government should facilitate industrial growth by giving package on the pattern of real estate sector.

“Such incentives for the industries could prove a game-changer for the economy,” he added.

Minister for Industries and Commerce Mian Aslam Iqbal said that the development in two major estates would be completed by December 31, 2022.

The work on Motorway Interchange for the Quaid-e-Azam Business Park would start soon, he said, adding that the government is setting up Chunian Aqua Business Park, Bahawalpur and Muzaffargarh Industrial Zone for giving a boost to the industrial sector.

The entrepreneurs were preferring industrial estates and Special Economic Zones due to the ease of doing business, he said.

Mian Iqbal said that Punjab has attracted around Rs300 billion investment during the last three years.

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