Sindh asked not to hinder industrial zone launch – Pakistan

• Imran tells provincial govt to pursue case ‘positively’ in court
• Abu Dhabi crown prince condoles over Lahore blast

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minis­ter Imran Khan on Monday asked the Sindh government not to create hurdles in the way of launch of Dhabeji Industrial Zone (DIZ) and pursue the matter “positively” in court.

According to the Prime Minister Office (PMO), Mr Khan directed the authorities concerned to resolve issues of special economic zones on a priority basis and enforce measures for facilitating investment within the given “time frame”.

He issued the directive while chairing a high-level meeting here on Special Eco­nomic Zones (SEZs) being established under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project.

The participants were told that land in the SEZs had been allotted to 130 companies for construction of industries so far.

A source after attending the meeting told Dawn that the premier expressed displeasure over delay in the physical launch of the DIZ and asked the Sindh government not to create “hurdles” in the way of the much-needed project.

The meeting was informed that Rashakai, Bolan and Allama Iqbal Industrial zones were already fully functional as industries were being built there. The participants were app­rised in detail about the steps being taken by the government to facilitate investment in the SEZs.

However, work on the Dhabeji industrial zone could not start due to litigation after the award of a contract to establish the zone.

PM Khan was informed that the developer for DIZ had been finalised and the Letter of Award (LoA) was issued to M/s Zahir Khan & Brothers on Oct 25, 2021. The meeting was apprised that the concession agreement was to be signed with the developer, but the project could not inch forward towards signing of the concession agreement with the developer due to ongoing litigation.

The prime minister was told that when the contract was awarded to the firm that had won the bid, a competitor moved the Sindh High Court (SHC) challenging the award of the contract on “weak footings”.

An official of the DIZ informed the meeting that accusations levelled by the plaintiff were “false and baseless”.

“Construction work can be expedited once the stay order on the frivolous nature case is vacated by the court,” the official said.

While the petitioner had challenged that the rules of SEZs had not been followed in the award of the contract, the Sindh government claimed that since DIZ had not been given the SEZ status so far, the rules of SEZs did not apply to it. The CPEC Authority also had submitted an official statement before SHC, expressing satisfaction over the bidding process and claiming that no irregularity had been committed in the award of the contract.

According to a document of the Sindh Economic Zones Management Company, the DIZ will be given the status of an SEZ after its completion.

The Sindh government had received bids for the project in February 2021. After a two-month evaluation, one of the bids was declared ‘technically unfit’. The provincial government then went for re-bidding in which ZKB emerged successful. Subsequently, the government issued the LoA to it.

The DIZ is located on the N-5 National Highway, close to Bin Qasim and Karachi ports as well as about 700km from Gwadar Port that connects the Central Asia Republics, the Middle East, Europe and Africa.

Abu Dhabi Prince phones PM

In a separate development, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces Mohamed Bin Zayed called PM Khan and offered deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the Jan 22 blast in Lahore.

The crown prince prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured and strongly condemned the terrorist attack that claimed three lives and left several injured, the PM Office said in a statement.

Reaffirming Pakistan’s firm resolve to fight terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, Mr Khan apprised the crown prince that the perpetrators of terrorist attacks would be brought to justice.

The PM also expressed Pakistan’s desire to work with the UAE for further strengthening of bilateral ties, enhancing cooperation in the multilateral fora and continue close coordination on regional and global issues of mutual interest.

Pervez, Shehryar meet premier

Defence Minister Pervez Khattak and Kashmir Committee Chairman Shehryar Afridi on Monday called on the prime minister and discussed current re-organization of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) as well as development projects in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Mr Khan highlighted the need for public representatives to accelerate their public interaction campaign, besides improving coordination with the district administration for the immediate resolution of the public issues.

Published in Dawn, January 25th, 2022

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