Karachi’s business hub is ownerless, says minister

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KARACHI: Karachi, often hailed as Pakistan’s bustling business hub, is facing a myriad of issues, as described by Sindh’s Interim Revenue and Industries Minister, Younus Dagha. He coined the city as “Lawaris” (ownerless), while acknowledging the patience and resilience displayed by its industrious residents. Dagha has pledged to address pressing concerns such as water shortages, labour-related challenges, and the establishment of a new industrial zone in Karachi.

The minister extended an offer to the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) to allocate 15,000 acres of land, situated near the Pakistan Steel Mill (PSM), for the development of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs). This initiative is expected to invigorate industrial activities within the nation’s primary business hub. Furthermore, the SIFC is considering the establishment of a special export processing zone in the area, he said.

Dagha made these announcements during his visit to the Federal B Area Association of Trade and Industries (FBATI) on Wednesday. He shared insights from a recent meeting with the Karachi Industrial Forum, where numerous industrialists voiced their concerns. The goal was to identify solutions through a well-structured mechanism that could address these issues efficiently.

The minister underscored the need for a comprehensive mechanism that integrates key stakeholders, including industrialists, into the administrative affairs of government departments. This collaboration aims to revamp road infrastructure within various industrial zones. He specifically mentioned two estates, Site Estate and Nooriabad Estate, where work committees have been established for development initiatives. Dagha also emphasised that property tax collected from industrial areas should be reinvested in those areas to enhance local infrastructure.

In efforts to stabilise land prices in new industrial estates, the government is contemplating the introduction of rules and regulations that would curtail frequent land trading, similar to the way shopping malls operate.

Moreover, the government is evaluating the formation of works and coordination committees within Karachi’s industrial zones. These committees will address infrastructure issues, water supply, sewage systems, street lighting, and law enforcement. Each committee would operate as a self-sustained entity.

Dagha highlighted the essential need for compliance with labour laws, particularly for export-oriented industrial units. He acknowledged the limitations of the Sindh Employees Social Security Institution (SESSI) in serving workers and proposed a new model, such as self-health insurance. Alternatively, SESSI hospitals could be transferred to institutions like the Indus Hospital and Health Network (IHHN) to better facilitate workers.

The minister pledged to expedite the development of the K-IV water project.

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