JANUARY 5, 2020
Subsequently, countries like Pakistan should explore new development strategies that minimize the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to accomplish clean growth. In the Pakistani context, the current growth pattern is not only unsustainable but also inefficient. Pakistan suffers from numerous socio-economic problems due to the country’s low productivity rate. This weak productivity is caused by the low domestic and foreign direct investment, lack of export and high unemployment rate that accelerates the internal migration. Thus, for solving all these socio-economic challenges, it is essential to set out a national strategy for the sustainable development in mega projects that can tackle all these circumstances without deteriorating surrounding environment, and Gilgit Baltistan development is one of these projects. This is extensively indispensable for the prosperity of not only the Gilgit Baltistan area but also for the Pakistan economy. Supporting the sustainable development in the Gilgit Baltistan economic zone is the efficient way to battle various macroeconomic challenges that hinder the country’s development without polluting the environment.
As per the Asian development bank, the success of the special economic zone depends on two factors: the extent to which these economic zones are linked with the whole economy, and the capability of the economic zone to support the economic transformation from a manufacturing basis to technological innovation
It is estimated that the projects that will be established in the Gilgit Baltistan economic zone are supposed to generate billion dollars annually once they are complete. Globally, special economic zones (SEZs) have become an integral instrument to enhance the country’s economic development. Per the World Bank, the establishment of a special economic zone in developing countries is a useful path to achieve the country’s inclusive green growth. These zones contribute directly to achieve the following: increasing the foreign exchange earnings; magnifying the country exports; integrating host country to the global markets; increasing the government revenues; increasing the technological knowledge transfer; and reducing unemployment. The Asian Development Bank, claimed that SEZs played a significant role to support the trade and investments during the economic recession in some countries. However, others skeptic doubted that SEZs have a positive significant impact on the host country as it has presented in the literature. Hence, assessing the impact of all the current sorts of special economic zones in the Gilgit Baltistan region is a necessity to hypothesize the extent to which these economic zones can achieve their objectives in Pakistan, and what are the major changes that are required to expand Gilgit Baltistan special economic zone successfully. Inside the Gilgit Baltistan special economic zones, the government should aim to attract more investments, which means stimulating more job opportunities for local and technological advancement for domestic industrial development. Meanwhile, the government should foster other economic activities outside the zone through generating synergies that encourage backwards and forward linkages with the whole economy. This means that Gilgit Baltistan special economic zones under certain measurements could be the instrument that helps the country to stimulate economic growth inside and outside the economic zone. As per the Asian development bank, the success of the special economic zone depends on two factors: the extent to which these economic zones are linked with the whole economy, and the capability of the economic zone to support the economic transformation from a manufacturing basis to technological innovation.
In order to conclude, Pakistan has everything going for it at the moment, and has the world’s attention firmly focused on it. With the government’s stated aims of promoting manufacturing, creating new jobs, upskilling the workforce, and fostering entrepreneurship and by declaring industrial emergency it makes sense that if SEZs are established they will act as stimulus for economic development. As a critical tool for the promotion of manufacturing and exports, SEZs have made a difference historically and is expected to reap extraordinary outcomes if executed in Pakistan. Moreover, it can also make a real difference in achieving all of the other key objectives of the government while encouraging ‘startupreneuships’ which is among the key goals of the current government.
The writer is Advisor (PITAC, Lahore operated under Federal Ministry of Industries and Production, Islamabad) and Foreign Research Associate (Centre of Excellence, CPEC, Islamabad)