ISLAMABAD, Jan. 8 (INP): China attached high importance to the development of Gwadar as a vibrant and prosperous city, hoping all the stake-holders will fullfil their responsibility in this connection, reports Gwadar Pro App.
Until recently almost no one in the world has heard of Gwadar, a small fishing town in Pakistan. Gwadar is being touted as a big hub of the region, as Pakistan and China are expanding the avenues of cooperation and friendship through the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The port, being developed by the China Overseas Ports Holding Company Limited (COPHCL), offers numerous opportunities of socio-economic development for Baluchistan in particular and Pakistan in general.
Although much has been said about the port, the City of Gwadar so far not meeting the desired results. The difference in speed and quality of development taking place at the port and the city is worrisome.
While COPHCL is developing state of the art infrastructure to make the port operational as soon as possible, government authorities seem to be doing little to prepare Gwadar city for the up-coming economic activities in this region.
Many stakeholders have also expressed deep concern that in the near future, this difference in development speeds will lead to grave incompatibility between the city and the port, resulting in challenges for both.
This visible incoherence in the two urban landscapes is not the only concern, as Gwadar city also lacks basic infrastructure.
If we take example from the successful urban centers such as China’s Shenzhen and UAE’s Dubai, they have followed effective urban governance models that have been the key to their growth. Examples of economic cities also provide roadmaps for new cities including Gwadar to follow in the future.
There is an urgent need for the government to improve Gwadar city’s infrastructure, so it is better equipped to host the businesses and labor force which the port is expected to attract.
Policies and structures need to be implemented, for the creation of a city, which is not only friendly to businesses but also equally rewarding in its cultural and communal character to its locals and new settlers.
For example, the city will raise sufficient revenues to focus on education, water, health, housing, and business opportunities for the local population and investors. Hence, the governance system should give due representation to local population to get a fair share in the economic opportunities being created in Gwadar city.
Cities like Gwadar need to have higher autonomy, more flexibility in testing new and innovative policies such as incentives, while separate from the other parts of the country so that the repercussion from some not so successful policies doesn’t affect the other parts. Such system of governance can be helpful for Baluchistan to earn revenues from economic activities in Gwadar.
An efficient governance system is important particularly in the context of the Ease of Doing Business, involving streamlining the investment process, business registration and clearing cases.
In administration the degree of efficiency in the management of local affairs matter the most. Therefore, a failure to create an efficient system of governance will in the long run turn into a failure to attract sufficient business and create a self-sustaining economy.
The city should have the authority to implement economic incentives to attract business, such as tax breaks, cheap or even free land for a certain initial period, or cheap and stable supply of utilities, to improve the port city’s competitiveness within the nearby region.
And lastly a protective mechanism should be in place so that even if some policies end up not so successful within the port city, the adverse impact does not spread to the other parts of the country. When experimenting new, innovative and potentially debatable policies, it is advisable to test it in small scale initially.