A friend of mine shared the performance report of the Industries, Commerce, and Investment & Skills Development Department of Punjab.
The province of Punjab is gradually becoming a land of opportunities for investors. The region is central due to its location and it has many suitable scopes of investment. The province operates with a versatile sectoral landscape that has an attractive set of opportunities for innovation, industrialization, market development, export sourcing, and globalization. All of this can be easily achieved through the ample availability of entrepreneurial people, a young skilled labour force, endowed geography, and an enabling business environment. Moreover, the land is connected through comprehensive value chains that are present across Special Economic Zones, Industrial Estates, and Manufacturing Corridors of Punjab. These not only cater to the demands of the local population but also regional and global demands through a network of global markets through land, sea, and air links. There are several industries in Punjab that have a number of investment opportunities available. These include Urban Regeneration & Infrastructure, Agriculture & Food Processing, Textile & Value-added Garments, Livestock & Dairy, Energy, Irrigation, Mining & Minerals, and IT & ITeS. All of these provide an opportunity for global and local investors to invest and create profitable businesses out of their investments. Not only is the province full of opportunities, but investors are also further aided with the facilitative policies of the Punjab government.
Punjab houses a population of 110 million people, out of which 60% are in the working age range of 15-65 years. Out of this working-age population, approximately 35% is youth. The literacy rate in the region is 66.3%. The province has an abundant amount of various raw materials produced by its agriculture and mining sectors, which are then processed in the industrial hubs of the region. These industrial hubs are run by highly skilled human resources. The total GDP of Punjab is US$162 billion, it has 10 Special economic zones and 68,000 industrial units. The land of the five rivers produces 60% of the agricultural products, 70% of the Textile, and 70% of the livestock and it is responsible for 55% of the eCommerce operations in the country.
Punjab can easily be named the next Factory of the World due to its geographical location and endowments, institutional framework, connectivity, stable economic environment, modern infrastructure, and a comprehensive canvas of investment and entrepreneurial opportunities. All of these let Punjab have a clear advantage to be a favourite investment destination in the region. Not only does it provide an attractive opportunity to local investors but also to foreign investors who are looking for a place that would allow them to maximize their profits and lower their costs. Foreign investors are allowed 100% ownership and profit repatriation/remittance of capital, profits and dividends. The province has a friendly visa policy, strategic location, a young and skilled workforce, fiscal incentives, competitive labour cost, rapid and continuous economic growth, and high export potential.
Dr Ahmed Javed Qazi Secretary of Industries, Commerce, Investment & Skills Development Department of Punjab is highlighting the various industrial estates all over the province that would allow many industries to be set up. Some of these estates are being set up in Bahawalpur, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Dera Ghazi Khan and Sialkot. In the agricultural sector, there is the introduction of fish farms in Chunnian that will increase the production of high-quality fish and fish products. Additionally, the department of commerce, in Punjab is working to bridge the gap between industries and universities so that the right kind of research and development can take place. Moreover, with this bridging of gap, universities can offer the right kind of programs so that when students are launched into the job market, they are not left unemployed and the industries are not left to hire freelancers from abroad. The Punab government has also established three technology-based universities that will produce future skilled workers. In addition to that, the commerce department will have to facilitate the apprenticeships of 5% of university students and employees so that better human resources are created.
All the industrial estates being established will allow industries to keep all of their income as they will be tax-free for the next 10 years. This should attract heavy amounts of investment, as in many countries, taxes take away much of what is earned. Moreover, the focus is more on commerce than agriculture because the former is better in terms of earnings. Also, with the increasing threat of climate change and the recent floods, agriculture is declining and becoming redundant. The land of Punjab and its assets will be better used in the establishment of various industries.
All the investors looking into investing in the region must rest assured that the planning division has collaborated with China, Holland, and Turkey to design the most efficient network of systems to aid in the workings of the industrial areas. China is the flagbearer of production and Punjab is following in its footsteps, so the investors have nothing to worry about. The government has also covered the distance between engineers and technologists that earlier existed and proved to be a hindrance to the proper workings of industries.
Punjab is providing countless investment opportunities to both local and foreign investors. Now is the time to invest in the next big global production hub. Here, industrialists will find cheap skilled and unskilled labour, easy loans, tax-free schemes and a number of other incentives. However, what the government needs to regulate is the carbon emissions created by these industries, as the country is already facing many issues due to climate change. Lastly, there should be a careful watch for corruption and other malpractices that have discouraged foreign investors from coming into the country. If honest development is done in the region, it can become a mini-China and help Pakistan reach new heights.