Skip to main content

Gwadar, Pakistan’s new boomtown, needs a sustainability check

https://tribune.com.pk/story/1620661/2-gwadar-pakistans-new-boomtown-needs-sustainability-check/


By Faran Mahmood

Published: January 29, 2018

PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABADGwadar, Pakistan’s new boomtown, is all set to celebrate its Free Zone status on the occasion of the first Gwadar Expo 2018. Hailed as the next ‘Shenzhen,’ the smart port city offers a combination of tax-and-tariff incentives, streamlined customs procedures, and a less stringent regulatory environment.

Pakistan’s record on SEZ (special economic zones) has not been great but it does boast of a few industrial clusters that have created thousands of jobs over decades.

This growth of industrial clusters has almost always been organic – contrary to a ‘top-down’ push from the government in the case of SEZs. Many plans to create SEZs in KPK in the past have fallen far short of their objectives because of government’s piecemeal approach to deregulation.

PM to visit Gwadar amid concerns over anti-CPEC propaganda

However, this phenomenon is not unique to Pakistan, and India alone has hundreds of SEZs that are struggling to make a mark.

Addressing corruption concerns

But when it comes to Gwadar, the government is doing nothing by halves. The Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) is all set to establish a facilitation centre in Gwadar FZ that will expedite commercial operations – cutting through the red tape. The Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) has approved long-term sweeping tax concessions for port operators that include exemption from sales tax, excise duty, customs duty, income tax and various withholding taxes.

However, a good question is: what could be unintended consequences of this?

There is a chance that due to relaxed procedures and concessions, Gwadar FZ could be used for money laundering purposes as goods originating from or being transshipped through Gwadar won’t be subject to export control. Mis-invoicing of exports is a common loophole used for money laundering in Free Zones. There is a dire need that the SECP and FBR conduct their own due diligence and get to know the client before admitting it to the Gwadar free trade zone.

Port infrastructure

Moreover, Gwadar port infrastructure projects are staggering in their ambitions but short on details when we talk about sustainability practices and water planning. There is a need to future-proof infrastructure portfolio by projecting future demands and strategically responding to anticipated changes in requirements. For example, when planning for fresh water supply, it is imperative to consider possible future changes in water quality requirements, sea level, rainfall pattern, consumption and energy tariff.

In the case of Gwadar, it was thought that Aakra dam would be more than sufficient to meet water needs at a time when the population of Gwadar was a mere 5,000. Today, the population of Gwadar is 0.27 million and the total water demand there is 6.5 million gallons per day. The new water desalination plant inaugurated earlier this month will supply an additional 0.25 million gallons of drinking water everyday – making the daily water shortfall around 4 million gallons. The Aakra dam was designed to provide 2.5 million gallons per day but it has dried up due to scarce rains and has silted in less than 15 years. Water tankers fetch potable water from far off Mirani dam, costing Rs18,000 per tanker, but even that water is not fit for human consumption as per WHO guidelines.

As the population of Gwadar is expected to surpass the 2-million mark in the next five years, the water situation will worsen as even Mirani dam won’t be able to meet a demand of more than 10 million gallons per day – not to talk of a projected demand of more than 50 million gallons per day by 2022.

China to install coal-based power plant in Gwadar

Sponsors often have an incentive to undervalue environmental impact assessment reports and sustainability studies for fast tracking of megaprojects but this approach often costs a lot more at the end of the day.

Socio-economic development efforts in Gwadar should conform not only to sustainable development goals but should also involve looking into possible future scenarios in order to future-proof million dollar investments. As mega projects take a number of years and even decades to complete, the business case and stakeholder requirements may change during that period.

So unless we future-proof these megaprojects, we might face with changing requirements and scope creep problems that could have substantial impact on budgets, communities and environment.

The writer is a Cambridge graduate and is working as a strategy consultant. He tweets at @faranmah

 

Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th, 2018

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Balochistan to establish first medical university

https://www.dawn.com/news/1366135

The Newspaper's Staff CorrespondentOctober 25, 2017QUETTA: The provincial cabinet on Tuesday approved the draft for establishing a medical university in Balochistan.Health minister Mir Rehmat Saleh Baloch made the announcement while speaking at a press conference after a cabinet meeting.“The cabinet has approved the draft of the medical university which would be presented in the current session of the Balochistan Assembly,” he said, adding with the assembly’s approval the Bolan Medical College would be converted into a medical university.Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2017

5 Shia Hazara community members gunned down in Pakistan

http://m.hindustantimes.com/world-news/5-shia-hazara-community-members-gunned-down-in-pakistan/story-CHWR4lYByRHzf2KjHjMloI.html



Five members of the minority Shia Hazara community, including two women, were killed on Sunday in an attack by unidentified gunmen in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province.This is not the first time that members of the Hazara community have been targeted in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan.(Reuters File Photo)Updated: Sep 11, 2017 00:20 ISTBy Press Trust of India, Press Trust of India, KarachiFive members of the minority Shia Hazara community, including two women, were killed on Sunday in an attack by unidentified gunmen in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province.The gunmen targeted a car in Kuchluck area of Quetta while it was coming from the Chaman border crossing area, police said.The firing took place when the travellers had stopped at a filling station to refuel their vehicle. Five people of the Shia Hazara community, including two women, died in …

China’s 'Digital Silk Road': Pitfalls Among High Hopes

https://thediplomat.com/2017/11/chinas-digital-silk-road-pitfalls-among-high-hopes/


Will information and communication technologies help China realize its Digital Silk Road?By Wenyuan WuNovember 03, 2017In his speech at the opening ceremony of China’s 19th Party Congress, President Xi Jinping depicted China as a model of scientific and harmonious development for developing nations. Xi’s China wants to engage the world through commerce but also through environmental protection and technological advancement. This includes Beijing’s efforts to fight climate change with information and communication technologies (ICTs) that it plans to export along its “One Belt One Road” initiative (OBOR). Xi may have ambitious plans, but could China be throwing up obstacles in its own way?In his speech, the Chinese president emphasized the need to modernize the country’s environmental protections. The Chinese state is taking an “ecological civilization” approach to development and diplomacy, with a natio…