Speakers at a roundtable conference Tuesday highlighted the importance of promoting and developing country’s own Small Sector Enterprises (SMEs) sector to tap the potential of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) for sustainable progress and development.
The roundtable conference on “Role of CPEC to develop SEZs, SMEs and Human Resources” was jointly organized by CPEC Excellence Centre and Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI). The speakers highlighted the importance that win-win opportunities should be created for both Pakistan and China, saying that instead of indulging in competitions, complement should be the mode of operations to create win-win situation.
Speaking on the occasion, Secretary Ministry of Planning, Development and Reform Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui while terming the CPEC a game-changers, said that some forces wanted to break China and Pakistan relationship, towards which many countries were looking with envy.
However, he added that people and governments of the two countries were standing like rock and were determined to move forward together. He said, no doubt China was having business interests in CPEC but it must be realized that it equally provided great opportunities to Pakistan and it could get lot from it.
The secretary was of the view that there may be difference of opinion but we should be united for national interests, adding that the nation and its institutions were united on CPEC and were doing their best for the development of this project. Siddiqui said that the business community has always been forthcoming, requesting businessmen to give their suggestions for making it more productive.
President FPCCI, Ghazanfar Blour on the occasion highlighted the role of industrial development, business and SMEs for overall development of the country.
He said that CPEC provided an opportunity to Pakistan to develop its SME sector and procure jobs for youth.
On the occasion, Chairman SMEs Central Committee of FPCCI, Iftikhar Ali Malik said that there was a symbiotic relation between the Small Sector enterprises and Special Economic Zones, if one is to be developed, the other should be developed simultaneously.
He was of the view that CPEC could become lifetime opportunity if it is taken as challenge with full responsibility.
He said about $50 billion investment in Pakistan was bond of China’s trust, urging other countries to take advantage of this corridor, which could be beneficial for them.
He said that instead of involving in competitions, Chinese businessmen should complement and coordinate with the SME sector of the country to provide win-win situation for both the counties.
He lamented that SMEs sector was ignored in the Federal Budget 2018-19 whereas it was facing lot of problems in getting bank loans. He also stressed the need for focusing on SME cluster development under CPEC.
On the occasion, Project Director CPEC, Hassan Dawood Butt informed the participants about the progress of various projects under the CPEC. He informed the gathering that Joint Working Croup meeting was likely to be held by the end of July or early August.
He said that Shanghai Expo 2018 was also scheduled to be held in October, which would provide a better opportunity to Pakistan to showcase it products. Refuting the claims that most of the employees working on CPEC projects were Chinese, he said that 64 percent human resource on energy sector was Pakistanis, adding that initially they had to hire Chinese to execute projects till local manpower is trained.
On the occasion, Dr. Shahid Rashid Executive Director, CoE CPEC gave a detailed briefing said that Pakistan was lagging behind regional countries in various field including industry and ease of doing business.
He said that at a time it was not possible to develop the whole country altogether, so there was need to develop zones of excellence to kick start growth for example SEZs. He said that there were 5000 SEZs worldwide since 1980s out of which 82 percent were in Asia, where South East Asia and China reflect success stories, stressing the need that Pakistan should learn from these experiences.
Meanwhile representative of Board of Investment informed the participants about various initiatives introduced by the government for promoting investments into the country.
Representatives of Small and Media Enterprise Development Authority, National Vocational & Technical Training Commission, Pakistan Institute of Development Economics also highlighted development of relevant sectors in their presentations. Deputy Air Vice Marshall Aamir Masood, representatives of various business bodies were present on the occasion.