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Jump-start of special economic zones govt’s top priority: development minister

ISLAMABAD: While highlighting the focus of the government, Minister for Planning, Development & Reforms (PD&R) Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar on Tuesday said it was top priority of the government to jump-start special economic zones (SEZs).

“It is our top priority to jump-start SEZs, and Rashakai Special Economic Zone will be the first one in the line,” he said during a meeting with a delegation headed by Chief Financial Officer China Road and Bridge Corporation (CRBC) Dong Futang, who called on him in Islamabad.

Secretary Planning Zafar Hasan Member Infrastructure & Connectivity Malik Ahmad Khan, Project Director CPEC Hassan Daud and other officials were also present on the occasion.

The CRBC, a Chinese state-owned company has already signed a Memorandum of Understating and an engagement agreement with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government to jointly develop Rashakai SEZ.

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Khusro Bakhtyar appreciated the role of the CRBC in implementation of Karakorum Highway and other infrastructure projects. He underlined that the Chinese firm would continue its efforts to ensure efficient execution of the special economic zone.

He said that the said area remained ignored in the past and none of the zones were taken off.

The minister further stressed on a clear timeline and business model for the development of SEZ at Rashakai as a first zone which would be followed by others.

He emphasized that the developer should focus on the relocation of Chinese heavy industry and investment from local as well as foreign enterprises to ensure value addition of the products and import substitution.

The secretary planning also emphasised on developing a state-of-the-art infrastructure to facilitate relocation of Chinese companies and ensure a level playing field for local as well as foreign investors.

Dong Futang said that all out efforts and experiences would be applied to develop Rashakai SEZ at par with Chinese developed zones.

He further said that locals would be preferred for employment in development and operation stages.

“Pakistan’s natural resource potential would be fully utilised to make this project win-win for all,” he said.

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