KARACHI - Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf has urged the investors to benefit from the export processing zones set up by the government, which offer exclusive incentives to them.

Addressing the inauguration of Tuwairqi Steel Mill, the first steel plant in the private sector, here on Saturday he said the government would like to assure the business community and investors that they would find the government encouraging, protecting and supporting their investments.

He said the inauguration of this plant heralds a new phase in the industrial development of the country. It also reflects the growing confidence of the international investors in the business friendly policies of the government and the vast potential that Pakistan offers. He said successful completion of Tuwariqi Steel Mill has demonstrated that investment, process, infrastructure and the cost of doing business in Pakistan are favourable.

He said ‘Steel builds the nation’ was the vision of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was cognizant, that indigenization and development of local industry was not possible unless Pakistan produced steel locally. Consequently, Pakistan Steels Mills emerged as the first integrated steel complex of Pakistan in 1970s, which laid the foundation for fast-track economic and industrial development in the country. Reading from the written text, the Prime Minister said presently steel consumption in Pakistan per capita is 37 kg, which is among the lowest in comparison to regional average of 208 kg and world average of 181 kg. This presents an opportunity to the steel sector to grow manifold and for investors to tap into a largely unexplored market with significant upside potential.

He said that the government of Pakistan had recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Russian Federation for expansion of Pakistan Steels Mills to cater to ever growing demand of iron and steel in the country.

Pohang Iron and Steel Company (Posco), a South Korean based company and the third largest world steelmaker by market value has partnered with Tuwairqi Steel Mill Limited in order to set up this plant in Pakistan. I understand that they are also working together to explore the possibility of exploration of iron ore in the country;, he said.

He urged the investors to benefit from the Export Processing Zones set up by the government, which offer exclusive incentives to the investors such as: development of land on highly competitive rates for 30 years lease, which is extendable; clearly defined security parameters within the boundary walls and duty-free import of machinery, equipment and material. The other incentives including freedom from national import regulations; exemption from exchange control regulations; full freedom for repatriation of capital and profits; uninterrupted supply of utilities; No sales tax on input goods; Duty-free vehicles allowed under certain conditions; Availability of domestic market up to 20 per cent; permission to sell obsolete/old machinery in domestic market after payment of applicable duties and taxes.

The Prime Minister thank Dr Hilal Hussain Al-Tuwairqi, the Chairman Al-Tuwairqi Group of Companies and assure him and Joon-Yang Chung, Chairman/CEO of Posco that the government would continue to extend support to their ventures. I wish you good luck and success in your ventures.