KARACHI: Chairman of the Balochistan Economic Forum (BEF), Sardar Shoukat Popalzai, said Chinese investment is a major step in improving socio-economic development in Balochistan province.
He expressed concern over recent statements by a member of the National Assembly from Balochistan province, in which he used very harsh words for Chinese companies investing in the province, including energy projects. The MNA even accused them of destroying the environment and marine life in coastal areas, in addition to denying jobs to locals.
Sardar Shoukat Popalzai regretted that such statements could discourage investment projects in Balochistan. He said all Chinese projects under the CPEC have generated considerable economic activity and created employment opportunities for local people. For example, China Overseas Port Holding Company created more than 4,000 jobs during the first phase in Gwadar: the number of local employees was 3,800 while Chinese employees were only 200.
Particular emphasis is placed on marginalized areas and Balochistan has been identified as a priority region under the CPEC. The World Bank stressed that CPEC would help Pakistan accelerate economic growth and development, especially in less developed regions like Balochistan.
President of Balochistan Economic Forum says next to Gaddani energy project in Lasbela district is a shipbreaking yard, whose environmental impact has never been questioned and which is thriving for decades.
The yard has generated considerable economic activity and created job opportunities for coastal Balochistan. Due to the power station, the MNA fears that the fishing sector remains under constant threat in the coastal area of the province, but in fact the main reason could be the ban by the European Union on the export of fish products. sea to Europe and other countries in recent years. past. This has severely affected the income generation of the coastal population of Balochistan.
The provincial political leader should seek cooperation from foreign investors while opening up dialogue to help resolve these difficult issues, as this would bring gains to local people rather than scare off investors, he said.
The lawmaker, representing Lasbela and Gwadar, had wrongly blamed Chinese companies for not coming to the aid of the people during the devastating floods in the province, and alleging that the companies were not paying taxes; such statements embarrass the country.
The People’s Republic of China is at the forefront, as always, in providing relief and rehabilitation support, and Chinese companies based in Balochistan, while fulfilling their corporate social responsibility, have provided substantial cash donations and distributed necessary materials to those affected. Time and time again, Chinese companies operating in Balochistan have always engaged with the local population while supporting issues of health, education and socio-economic development.
It is a fact that the CPEC could significantly alter the economic prospects of the province. Being Pakistan’s largest province in terms of area, it is a potential haven for foreign companies eyeing its untapped natural resources in different sectors.
He said there can be no second opinion on defending the economic interests of the province, especially the local people, but the fact that foreign and local investors face many obstacles should not be ignored. in the finalization of projects, and such statements create misunderstandings about the investment. provincial environment.
Due to the suppressed economy of Balochistan, foreign investment is needed to create job opportunities, develop infrastructure, develop the community and increase revenue through different taxes for the state treasury. Balochistan undoubtedly needs investment in different economic sectors, he said.
The Balochistan Economic Forum has organized several dialogues between Chinese companies, local political leaders and the people to ensure that all grievances are handled properly.
He said big projects always require huge capital, highly skilled workers and technical know-how, in addition to connections to international markets for profitable and successful operations. Currently, neither the federal government nor the provincial government has such resources and expertise. This required the interest and support of foreign investors.
The President of Balochistan’s Economic Forum has further advised political leaders to be very careful before issuing such harsh statements, which would harm the economic interests of the province. The provincial government and political leaders should strongly support foreign and local direct investment in the province and, above all, ensure that the message is reflected in bureaucratic policies and procedures, he urged.
The Balochistan Economic Forum since its inception in 1992 has played an important role in attracting foreign investment to Balochistan province. The Forum has organized several seminars and conferences on different economic topics and issues with the aim of acquainting the national and international business community with the trade and investment opportunities in Balochistan Province.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022