ISLAMABAD (APP) - Competitiveness Support Fund (CSF) is taking concrete steps to establish Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the country to meet global competitiveness effectively and promote trade and investment. The fiance ministry has tasked the CSF of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under an agreement to formulate a policy framework for the establishment of SEZs. For this purpose, a study of best practices in SEZs prevalent in regional countries like China, India, Thailand, Malaysia, UAE and Vietnam was conducted to develop Pakistan's policy framework. The draft policy framework for SEZs emphasizes development and operational management of SEZs by the public sector or public-private partnership. It includes governing of all aspects of SEZ planning, development, land allotment and zone management, defining mechanism for the establishment and administration of SEZs, policy measures and incentives for promotion of investment, industrial estates, parks and small industrial parks; and reconstruction opportunities zones (ROZs) in the NWFP and Balochistan with special status with the United States. The modalities of the SEZs policy framework include a Board of Approval (BoA) at the federal level. The BoA will be comprised of relevant ministries, business leaders, and provincial governments and will be chaired by the Prime Minister. It would have the authority to grant SEZ status to all new and existing zones. Details of the administrative methods for processing applications for approving SEZs will be worked out by the BoI. The Board of Investment will provide secretariat services to the BoA and will cater for all matters of SEZs through creation of SEZ Cell by hiring services of required professionals. The SEZ would be supported by CSF. The Private sector or public-private partnership zone developers, once approved for SEZ status, shall have authority to develop their master plans, allot land and approve individual investors in compliance with the rules set forth in the SEZ Policy frame work. Zone developers may purchase land privately land privately on ownership or lease land from Federal/Provincial/Local Governments. The minimum size of an SEZ would be 50 acres with lease period of 50 to 100 years. Policy framework for the establishment of SEZs would be protected through an Act which is being drafted. The draft framework also proposed changed for the encouragement of Zone developers and investors that included Corporate income tax holiday of up to 10 years and also for zone developers. Minimum size fo the Economic Zones be reduced from 500 to 50 acres and the condition of minimum 40 per cent foreign equity would not be applicable in these economic zones and country/company specific provision be elected. Arthur Bayhan, Chief Executive Officer of CSF, noted that although the policy framework had been deferred for a while, "It provides excellent grounds for promoting trade and investment in Pakistan. He thanked the Board of Investment for their cooperation in this development initiative. Arthur Bayhan further emphasized the importance of the act on the Special Economic Zones as stated in the policy framework to be finalized.