ISLAMABAD      -     The ground-breaking of CPEC Special Economic Zone at Rashakai is likely to be held on November 29 and the government is considering special incentives for the export oriented industries in the proposed zones.

The government is also likely to provide Rs 2.8 billion for the provision of electricity to fives CPEC SEZs, official source said here.

Prime Minister Imran Khan will chair an important meeting today (Wednesday) on CPEC Special Economic Zones, where he will issue special directive regarding the provision of utilities to the economic zones during current fiscal, the official informed. The government is also considering special incentives for the export oriented or import substituting industries in the proposed SEZs, he said. The incentives will not be uniform rather it will be based on the volume of exports or import substitution, he said.

The official said that the development agreement for the Rashakai SEZ will be signed prior to the next meeting of the CPEC Joint Cooperation Committee which is scheduled on November 6. The ground breaking of the SEZ will be held on November 29, said the official. Total nine SEZs will be established under CPEC but three of them are in advanced stage. The second SEZ is Dabiji, where the Sindh government has invited international tenders for the development of the zone. Similarly, land acquisition for Allama Iqbal Industrial City (M3) has been completed, said the official. “We have asked Chinese to provide us 30 to 40 firms in different field where we can discuss with them the possibility of starting business individually or in joint ventures with Pakistanis companies in the SEZs,” said the official.

The official said that Chinese industry in pharmaceuticals, agriculture, chemical, steel and Textile will be relocating to Pakistan.

No work had been done on the provision of utilities to the SEZs but now the work has been accelerated on the provision of electricity and gas to the SEZs, the official claimed.

The Prime Minister is likely to direct the Planning Ministry to release around Rs 2.8 billion during the remaining eight months of current fiscal for the provision of electricity to five SEZs, said the official.

Meanwhile, a press release issued here stated that the meeting of Joint Working Groups of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) Industrial Cooperation via videoconference was held here on Tuesday.

The meeting was co-chaired by Qasim Raza Khan, Executive Director General II, Board of Investment and Gao Jian, Deputy Director General, National Development and Reform Commission of China. Officials from line ministries, provincial governments and embassies attended the meeting.

Both sides agreed to jointly accelerate the efforts to enhance the level of industrial cooperation by ensuring concentrated efforts with early provision of utilities and allocation of land. Pakistan and China have agreed to enhance business to business linkages; to facilitate increased level of investment from Chinese enterprises, to enhance industrial competitiveness of business in Pakistan; through technology transfer, world class managerial and industrial practices and skills transfer.

Progress on prioritized CPEC SEZs including Rashakai, Dabiji, Alama Iqbal Industrial City (M3) was reviewed. It was agreed that the ground-breaking of Rashakai SEZs may be done next month whereby the development agreement is in the final stage. Chinese side expressed keen interest to participate in the bidding process for Dhabheji SEZ. In the process of industrial diagnosis of key industries, the Chinese experts informed that the report of the textile industry diagnosis is ready and will be shared by Chinese side soon. Both sides also discussed the possibility of upgradation of Pakistan Steel Mills.