Interview with Sardar Shoukat Popalzai – President, Balochistan Economic Forum
Sardar Shoukat Popalzai, President Balochistan Economic Forum, gained his degree in International Relations with major on diplomacy, economics and anti terrorism before spending nearly 24 years on professional career in the field of information service on International Diplomacy — Corporate Information and Media Monitoring. Over the years, he has made presentations at numerous important conferences and corporate briefings. He is also recipient of awards from USA, Great Britain, France, the People’s Republic of China and the Federal Republic of Germany.
BALOCHISTAN ECONOMIC FORUM: Formed in May 1992, Balochistan Economic Forum is a private non-profit organization. The program of the Forum has been designed to familiarize the national-international economic community with opportunities for trade and investment in the province of Balochistan, to keep corporate sector informed about current economic conditions in Balochistan, and to serve as a network for business contacts in the Balochistan economic community. Since its inception, the Balochistan Economic Forum has played an important role in attracting foreign investment in the province of Balochistan. The Forum has been a key player in arranging and preparing high level conferences, seminars, round table conferences, executive and corporate meetings, aiming at constructing investment programs and drawing international investors towards Balochistan-orienting foreign investors with the technical and strategic know-how of the modus operandi in this region. Namely that it is a think tank-cum-business & economic policy advocacy forum comprising numerous supporters like largest companies and groups which include several multinationals.
PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON CPEC AND INFRASTRUCTURE PROJECTS IN BALOCHISTAN:
SARDAR SHOUKAT POPALZAI: CPEC is one of most important corridors out of six under Belt & Road initiative of the People’s Republic of China. It has enhanced strategic depth of Pakistan. Balochistan will be benefited as the underdeveloped area will have the developed infrastructure, thus will support the socio economic development and connectivity with regional economies.
PAGE: YOUR TAKE ON THE BENEFIT OF CPEC FOR LOCAL BUSINESSMEN AND FACILITATION TO INVESTORS BY THE GOVERNMENT FOR VARIOUS PROJECTS:
SARDAR SHOUKAT POPALZAI: So far, the Federal and Provincial government has failed to highlight or even identify the opportunities for the local businesses, particularly on the basis of natural resources. The government has not spelled even the schedule of macro level projects.
PAGE: ARE THE PAKISTANI COMPANIES/ENTREPRENEURS GETTING CONTRACTS FOR THE CPEC PROJECTS?
SARDAR SHOUKAT POPALZAI: Not yet. Yes, they are getting contracts as sub contractors, however, the governmental organisations have taken their pie of contracts.
PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON GWADAR PORT:
SARDAR SHOUKAT POPALZAI: Gwadar port is world class macro level project. China is putting all endeavours to prove their sincerity to make viable and smartest Port and Port city. Federal and provincial government’s initiatives are very slow. These needs to be sped up and all utilities services should be provided on priority basis because there cannot be socioeconomic development without utility services.