Nov 21 - 27, 20

Balochistan has been lacking a corporate culture and hence it witnessed a meager corporate growth over the past many decades if compared with other provinces.

Astonishingly, the province witnessed a record corporate growth during the last fiscal year 2010-11. The total companies registered with the securities and exchange commission of Pakistan (SECP) company registration office in Quetta have crossed the 1,000 mark.

Total 57 companies were registered in Quetta in the last fiscal year compared to 22 companies registered during the previous financial year, showing an increase of 159 percent.

The portfolio of registered companies in Balochistan now comprises of 14 public listed, 22 public unlisted, 938 private, 15 single member companies, seven non-profit associations, four trade organizations, and a foreign company under section 42 of the Companies Ordinance 1984.

Total authorized capital and paid-up capital of these companies is Rs26 billion and Rs16 billion, respectively. The analysts consider it a milestone in the corporate growth history of Balochistan, reflecting the progressive development of a corporate culture in the province.

The credit for unprecedented corporate growth in Balochistan goes to the SECP that undertook substantial reforms and facilitative measures over the years to promote corporatization in the country. The sector-wise breakdown shows that 376 companies are registered in Hajj and Umrah services, followed by 105 companies in trading, 94 in tourism, 53 in mining, 46 in food and beverages, 40 in services, 30 in construction, and 25 in communication sector.

Balochistan has immense potential in corporate sector, which needs to be tapped efficiently. Gwadar, a port city and now the winter capital of the province may be developed as a business corporate hub. The port is still non-functional. It still lacks road and rail connectivity and its usage has so far been restricted to bulk cargo such as wheat and urea.

With a strategic location in the region and having vast untapped natural resources, diversity of climate, simultaneously five ecological zones, fisheries and strategic mineral resources, the province has the potential to emerge as Pakistan's new economic frontier.

It is endowed with rich reserves of gas, oil, lead, zinc, iron, marble, coal, gold and copper. The province is home to half of the country's estimated gas reserves of 200 trillion cubic feet, as about 100 trillion cubic feet, according to one estimate, are found in the province.

Sui gas field in Bugti tribal area accounts for a quarter of the country's total output. Reko Diq copper and gold deposits in Chagai are believed to be even bigger than Sarcheshmeh in Iran and Escondida in Chile. It is one of the biggest untapped copper deposits on the globe.

The province has an ideal land and suitable conditions for shrimp farming. New hatcheries should be set up in coastal districts like Lasbella and Mekran for shrimp production as viable business ventures. The province is rich in mineral resources. It is endowed with a large number of metallic and non-metallic minerals. The rising prices of minerals like coal, chromite, copper, lead and zinc in the world metal market has brought the mineral rich province in the radar screen of foreign investors. The province's near term growth potential exists with commercial exploitation of Saindak copper and gold deposits and the possible future exploitation of Reko Diq copper deposits in Chagai and Duddar zinc-lead deposit in Lasbela district.

The province offers access to new resources and markets and the prospect of more rapid growth. The province's geostrategic location makes it the most attractive for transit traffic to the landlocked central Asian republics (CARs).

Gwadar port can provide Afghanistan and the CARs the shortest and fastest access to the warm waters of the Arabian Sea. The port can also provide them with warehousing facilities along with transit and possibilities of import of goods. The port and its related planned regional highway projects will help Balochistan become a world-class mining center. For landlocked central Asian economies, Balochistan offers enormous opportunities in oil and gas sector of foreign investments.

Lack of human capital is a major constraint in growth of corporate culture. The province is technologically backward and economically least developed. It is rich in natural resources but with stagnant human resources. The province lacks the skilled and trained labor to utilize its natural resources. Resultantly, its resource potential remained untapped and the province has been caught up in underdevelopment trap.

The government should work out a roadmap for development of human resources in the province. The province is yet to make significant attainments in the human development index (HDI), which focuses on measurable dimensions of human development such as living a long and healthy life, being educated and having a decent standard of living. Thus, HDI combines measures of life expectancy, school enrolment, literacy, and income.

The key areas needed to be focused for human development in Balochistan, include a rational and long-term planning, on-job training programs, technical education according to the needs of 21st century, secondary level education for development of critical skills, allocation of significant resources, setting up of technology institutes in various districts, the recruitment of qualified teachers, instructors and trainers, access to the high-tech computing services, information technology, scientific management related education and value adding knowledge.

Human development provides a wide range of choices and opportunities to the people for employment, nutrition, education, and health care. Sustainable growth and poverty reduction objectives are concomitantly linked to significant investment in human capital.

Corporatization will help boost economic development of Balochistan. It will create enormous job opportunities for the local youth. There is a need to formulate a cohesive strategy to target sustainable, widespread, and cross-sectoral growth and integrated economic development in the province.

Politically stable, socially progressive and economically developed Balochistan provides the investors and businesspersons an ideal environment for doing and growing their business. Unfortunately, it is still a dream to come true, as the restive province cannot attract required investments towards its enormous natural resources and geostrategic location. No foreign investment can be allured as long as the province remains in the state of turmoil. Many foreign firms in mineral and oil and gas exploration have left the province due to security reasons.