A comprehensive steel policy would be rolled out soon in consultation with relevant stakeholders to resolve the issues being faced by the steel industry, announced Federal Minister for Industries and Production Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar.

Chairing a meeting with leading steel industry players on Friday, the minister asked for their support in drafting the policy to incorporate the suggestions of all stakeholders, for which a two-member team was nominated by the Pakistan Association of Large Steel Producers (PALSP).

The minister told meeting participants that the federal government was planning to develop around 7,500 acres of land in the steel mill area as cluster-based Special Economic Zones (SEZs) through the Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC).

He urged them to set up captive power plants in that project in order to meet their power needs at a lower cost.

The minister highlighted that in the first phase of the project over 1,500 acres, for which the government had allocated Rs7 billion funding from the Public Sector Development Programme (PSDP), land would be allotted at a low upfront cost to the industries.

The remaining amount could be paid in installments over five to seven years on the “pay-as-you-earn” model, he added.

Talking about the slow pace of work on the SEZs, the minister explained that most of the developers had not been able to cater to energy needs of the industry, which stifled the growth of industrialisation in the zones.

The government had intervened and allocated Rs22 billion in PSDP funding for the SEZ energy projects since 2019, he revealed.

On the occasion, PIDC Chief Executive Officer Rizwan Bhatti said that since the release of government funds for the grid, the National Industrial Park (NIP) had received numerous allotment applications.

He shared that the SEZ committee had made allotments for 70 acres of land to 14 applicants in the previous week, with expected investment of Rs13 billion and creation of 3,700 new job opportunities.

In line with the small and medium enterprise (SME) policy, 100 acres of land at the Bin Qasim Industrial Park (BQIP) was earmarked for plots to accommodate small enterprises, he added.

PALSP representative Abbas Akbar Ali emphasised the need for a 10-year steel policy so that the sector could make investment “with peace of mind”.

The meeting was told that with the current economic growth trajectory, Pakistan would need 30 million tons of long and flat steel products over the next five years. Various aspects of tariff structure, land cost and energy requirement of the sector also came under discussion in the meeting.

Later, the minister was joined by Sindh Governor Imran Ismail at PIDC in a virtual groundbreaking ceremony for a government-funded 132kv grid, costing Rs1.5 billion, for the BQIP.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2021.

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