Restructuring industrial estates in Sindh

A high-level meeting of experts drawn from diverse spheres, recently held in Karachi on the scope of restructuring and revamping industrial estates in Sindh with the assistance of Asian Development Bank (ADB) reportedly ended on a note of consensus on changes in the organisational structure of Sindh Industrial Trading Estate (SITE) Ltd and the other industrial estates.

This came about in the wake of deliberations on other models, Punjab Industrial Estates (PIE) development and management company in particular. So much so, that its CEO Sabir Chohan was requested to make a presentation for sharing experiences of success of Punjab industrial estates for possible borrowing or adoption for restructuring and reorganising the management of public sector expenditure in the industrial estates in Sindh through Site Ltd, as the mother company.

However, as he reportedly put it, PIE is engaged in the development of Sundar Industrial Estate, besides upgrading 565 acres Quaid-e-Azam Industrial Estate at Lahore, and 743 acres Multan Industrial Estate Phase-I, besides expansion of Multan Industrial Estate (667 acres) Phase-II, setting up of combined effluent treatment plant (CETP), which is expected to be commissioned by mid-2011, and a 390 MW private power plant to be completed by 2010.

There are a number of other attributes associated with the PIE. Reference, in this context, may also be made to his revelation that in Punjab, Chairman and Directors are appointed by the government, and operation is conducted on cost basis of O&M, for which the contributions are made by industrial units.

However, Engr M A Jabbar, Chairman of Site Association of Industry (SAI), made no secret of his reluctance to consider the adoption or borrowing of the PIE organisational structure, with a pointed reference to the appointment of the chairman and directors by government as it brought into play the factors of like and dislike, thereby, creating unnecessary complications.

As against this, he maintained that the chairman should be elected on the votes of all industrial units, ie, in Sindh more than 10,000 in seven industrial estates. Similarly, he argued that the Managing Director and Secretary should be appointed from amongst professionals in the market.

Moreover, on her part, Ms Xiaoqin Fan, Senior ADB Economist, is reported to have stated that her bank regards public-private partnership as the only way for development of industrial estates in Sindh, saying ADB has been working for reforms in Sindh for the last three years so as to improve the quality of life of the people in this province.

Again, recalling that 40 years ago Pakistan, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand were poor Asian countries, she lamented that while Pakistan remains bound in that category, the others have improved by exploiting own resources through good governance. More to this she maintained that in her opinion, Sindh should do better than other provinces because of its geographical location and nearness to sea.

All in all, it will be noted that in so far industrial activity is concerned, Sindh has a distinguishing place of its own for which it has witnessed heaviest concentration not only of mills and factories but also of diverse units of commercial and financial entities. As for the other provinces, for understandable reasons, they need not follow the example of Sindh. Now that ADB has set the pace for development of a tried and tested system of industrial estates it will be in the fitness of things to follow its lead.

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