Gas pipelines network up to SEZs: Gas utilities want to bypass federal government

Aftab Ahmed

Islamabad: As Pakistan and China enters second phase of industrialization under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), gas utilities have come up with a demand to bypass the federal government to implement gas pipeline network up to Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) had decided earlier that the cost for provision of utilities like gas and electricity to Special Economic Zones (SEZs) will be met through Public Sector Development Program (PSDP).

The gas utilities should be exempted from submitting PC-1 regarding cost of pipeline infrastructure and external network up to zero point of SEZ being funded through Public Sector Development Program (PSDP), the gas companies said in a demand placed before the federal government.

In a bid to provide industrial gas connection, the gas utilities companies lay network based on 100 per cent cost recovery from the applicant and developer for expeditious completion of projects. However, since ECC has already decided to fund the cost of external network, the cost estimates were shared with ministry of Planning, Development and Reforms for inclusion in the PSDP 2019-20.

Further the gas utility companies undertake pipeline projects in such a way that all activities involved i.e detailed route surveys, material procurement, land acquisition of ROW, temporary way leave, construction of site maps etc which are interconnected are performed simultaneously for which 100 per cent finances are required to be available in advance.

The 70-75 per cent material of total cost required for the project is procured in one go instead of piece meal as the lead time of imported material is 18-24 months. Keeping in view this situation and in order to complete the projects expeditiously, the gas utility companies recommend that SEZ projects should be exempted from submission of PC-1 in the case of government funding for gasification of towns and villages. The gas utilities want Executive Committee of National Economic Council (Ecnec) to approve their proposal now, sources told

The government plans to set up nine SEZs under CPEC to boost industrialization that would help to increase exports. Officials claim that there had been unprecedented progress under CPEC in three SEZs – Rashakai, Nowshera in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Allama Iqbal Industrial City in Faisalabad and Dhabeji SEZ in Thatta.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan has recently directed fast completion of the infrastructural work on the special economic zones (SEZs) under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in a bid to attract foreign direct investment by industrialization in the allocated zones which will be set up in all provinces of the country. The CPEC authority has already been set up to oversee and monitoring the projects under CEPC despite criticism by opposition parties.

The Pakistan is going to enter industrialization phase now and the government wants China to relocate industry. The government wants to open it for all countries. The Pakistan’s exports have witnessed a decline during last few years and industrialization in SEZs would help boost exports. This will also create opportunities for jobs and transfer of technology.

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