ISLAMABAD, Feb 04 ( Alliance News): The Economic Corridor Development (ECD) strategy developed by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) can help revitalize Pakistan’s economic growth by facilitating industrial clusters driven by an efficient transport network built with robust infrastructure and supported by a business-enabling policy framework.
By enhancing domestic connectivity and linking lagging regions (including secondary cities) with urban growth centers, ECD can help Pakistan become a hub of economic activity for Central, South, and West Asian countries, a report issued by the ADB said.
It added that it can also maximize the benefits of the international linkage between the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) programs and their routes.
The Asian Development Bank and the former Department for International Development of the United Kingdom selected four transport corridors in Pakistan on which to pilot ECD. The corridors include Motorway M4 linking Faisalabad and Multan in Central Punjab; National highway N70 connecting Multan (Punjab) and Killa Saifullah (Balochistan); National highway N50 linking Dera Ismail Khan (KPK) and Kachlak (Balochistan); Expressway E35 from Islamabad to Mansehra (KPK), which would likely be extended to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Central Asia in the future.
These selected transport corridors offer real untapped economic potential with opportunities to diversify; good development synergy for linking production networks especially small and medium-sized enterprises with markets and other economic agents; close links to the CPEC and CAREC routes; and favorable prospects for connecting and realizing the economic potential of underdeveloped regions in Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the report added.
Pakistan needs to transform these highways and expressways into true economic corridors through reforms. To identify and promote industry sectors that can compete globally, it could undertake detailed mapping of economic potential across districts and design an incentive structure to promote investment in the marginalized districts.
However, the report said that Pakistan lacks the administrative machinery for managing ECD and its building blocks. Its complex tax administration and compliance requirements impede growth and expansion of private investment; project management and implementation are weak; and a coherent regulatory framework for land use and urban development is lacking. Against this backdrop, this study proposes
several recommendations including empowering a central corridor planning and development agency to oversee the overall development and management of ECD.
The study also recommended strengthening the overall policy framework for ECD, focusing on streamlining transport and logistics policies, public-private partnerships, land-use and zoning regulations, and business regulatory framework and taxation regimes.
Furthermore, the study suggested to provide institutional support for skills development to align labor force skills with industry needs and linking existing industrial clusters and urban areas with new industrial hubs and urban centers through infrastructure networks, the most important being transportation.