Why we need special economic zones

Published: July 27, 2010
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We have to provide the youth a chance to construct their own destiny and work for a greater and prosperous Pakistan.

Pakistan is a country of unlimited human potential, especially with regard to talent that can be utilized to create a culture of dynamic entrepreneurship.

Once the majority of your population is below 25 years in age you cannot depend upon a number of big companies working in the country to produce employment of a desired level for the qualified and skilled youth. It is all about how well the planners in the government provide solutions to the youth to become their own employers and in turn employ others.

Let me give an example of a UAE based company, RSI Concepts. The company is run by young Pakistani entrepreneurs and has been functioning for about two years now. They launched operations with limited resources in Hamriya Free Zone of Sharjah. The company provides services for web designing, queuing management systems, financial and accounting software etcetera.

Hamriya Free Zone is a tax free one-window zone that provides cheap business facilities that include office space, licences, and visas for foreign workers etcetera. In this working environment, RSI Concepts, as a new comer in the industry, have grown to the extent that they now have BMW, Government of Sharjah, Government of Ajman and other high net worth clients in their portfolio.

In the above stated instance, the vision of the young entrepreneurs and their abilities of maintaining performances have being powered by the low cost structure and investment friendly policies of Hamriya Free Zone. The rest RSI have done on their shoulders of excellence and they are well on the way of their grand success in the field of IT Solutions in UAE.

I have seen a lot of Pakistani youth who have talent in IT, web design and software development. There are many gifted with the skills of investment management, real estate and financial markets advisory. There are many who can manage transportation network, forwarding and clearing transactions etcetera. But, unfortunately they have to run after jobs in the corporate sector that cannot provide jobs to everyone.

Here, investment friendly zones are vital. It is far better than the government providing income support programs. The government has to construct and organise zones that offer opportunities for business to young people who have expertise in specialized services.

The government has to construct these zones in all key business cities of Pakistan at first and then in all other cities of Pakistan. These zones have to provide facilities such as cheap office space as well as phone and fax facilities on discounted rates. The financial institutions also have to play their role to enhance partnerships with young entrepreneurs.

These zones have to be declared tax free and the government has to ensure that no business be shut down due to the lack of financial resources if the expertise and skills of an individual or group is of key importance in local and global services outlook. The government has to create an authority that facilitates and assists young entrepreneurs so that they can better understand the marketing aspect of their services.

I know this can be taken as a burden on the government but once starts it will have brisk effects on national economy and the employment situation. It is a far better solution than announcing aid for the people of Pakistan. It is also far more respectable than giving food to people like beggars.

In my view, the involvement of local governments is extremely important in this process. These zones can be established on the recommendation of local governments and it will indeed be efficient if the local governments run the show. Each city of Pakistan that is capable of providing world class service in any commercial regard has to have a specialized services zone. These zones need to be constructed on basic standards so the cost incurred and the time taken for each zone’s establishment comes to a minimum. This can also give a smart solution to the youth that are working in companies and willing to do their own business as part-time.

I see immense potential in Pakistani youth in web designing, software development, marketing services, financial consultancy etcetera. It is the need of the time, to introduce a culture of business to our youth. We have to provide them a chance to construct their own destiny and work for a greater and prosperous Pakistan.

Pakistan’s strength is not in offering multinational companies a way to cruise our brisk consumer or client base. Pakistan’s strength is in preparing our youth to serve 180 million people’s business base through their expertise and skills and then reach global markets to strengthen our economic and political causes.

We need to create specialized services zones to serve as business training and opportunity platforms for a very talented youth.

saqib.omer.saeed

Saqib Omer Saeed

A financial researcher, analyst and adjunct faculty in CBM, SZABIST, BIZTEK & University of Karachi and blogs at www.bizomer.com

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.