KARACHI: Chairman Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA) Saifuddin Junejo has urged the business community to take advantage of EPZA’s two new concepts of Private and Public Participated EPZs which allow potential investors having the required capital and land to develop, maintain and operate private EPZs whereas Public Participated EPZs can also be developed and maintained by the developer but operated by EPZA.

Speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) to deliver a presentation on “Private and Public Participated EPZs”, Chairman EPZA added that they have already started receiving several requests from local and foreign investors who were desirous to establish EPZs which will processed by EPZA and federal government as per pre-defined timeline.

President KCCI Iftikhar Ahmed Sheikh, Senior Vice President Altaf A. Ghaffar, Vice President Tanveer Ahmed Barry, Chairman Exports Subcommittee Junaid ur Rehman, Former Vice President Asif Sheikh Jawed and KCCI Managing Committee Members also attended the presentation.

Saifuddin Junejo said, “We have created this opportunity in line with Prime Minister’s vision to establish EPZs in all the cities which offer best incentives package including tax exemptions, immunity from Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) and no restrictions under import and export policies which are not applicable on business units at EPZs.”

Karachi Export Processing Zone was originally planned to be established on an area of 3,000 acres but it was spread over an area of just 300 acres which was very small as compared to other such zones in the region, said Chairman EPZA, while referring to free zone of Jabal-e-Ali in UAE which is spread over a huge area of 15,000 acres.

He also noted that last year, the trading volume of Jabal-e-Ali free zone alone stood at US$104 billion whereas the entire Pakistan with thousands of industries was hardly able to attain the exports of around US$28 billion. “It is due to the fact that we have neither been able to expand the existing EPZs nor established new EPZs”, he added while expressing optimism that the new concept for Private and Public Participated EPZs would encourage many potential investors to establish SEZs in any area of Pakistan.

Saifuddin Junejo mentioned that a total of 9 EPZs were operational in Pakistan and the same number of EPZs were also functioning in Bangladesh but Pakistan’s EPZs contribution to national exports was not more than 3 to 4 percent but in Bangladesh, SEZs were performing much better by contributing around 16 to 20 percent.

Director Investment Promotion EPZA Ghulam Mustafa Wahocho, in his presentation, stated that that as the government does not have land and funds to develop more EPZs, hence, there was a dire need to go for other alternate options such as Private and Public Participated EPZs. In this regard, Private and Public Participated EPZs Rules 2023 have been framed which have also been posted on EPZA’s website.

Explaining the criteria for establishing Private and Public Participated EPZs, he informed that fifty acres of land in ownership or on lease basis for a period of fifty years extendable to further period of fifty to ninety-nine years was one of the major requirements along with sufficient capital or capital plan and SECP’s registration for developing and operating EPZs. “The developer and operator may transfer the title of land lease or ownership to the Authority along with all rights and privileges under agreement”, he added.

He said that private and public participated EPZs will be notified under a pre-defined timeline which comprises of 15 days for evaluation by EPZA, 15 days for approval by EPZA Board and 60 days for approval by Federal Government.

He requested the Karachi Chamber to disseminate information about Private and Public Participated EPZs amongst its member companies and potential investors so that they could avail this opportunity for investment and play role in increasing the exports of Pakistan.

Earlier, President KCCI Iftikhar Ahmed Sheikh, while welcoming EPZA team, said that keeping in view the immense experience of Chairman EPZA, who has dedicatedly discharged his services at Pakistan Customs and also as Commercial Counselor at Pakistan’s Consulate in China, EPZA’s functioning would improve further and they will be able to offer all the required facilities along with incentives to attract maximum number of local and foreign investors.

He also extended full support and cooperation to EPZA in its endeavors to improve the performance all processing zones particularly, Karachi EPZA where more facilities as per international standards need to be introduced.