Sep 17 - 23, 20

As was planned, President Asif Ali Zardari signed on Monday(Sep.10).the Special Economic Zone Bill 2012 ,(SEZ Bill) during a special signing ceremony held at Aiwan-e- Sadr, putting in place a legal framework for" creation, development and efficient operations of special economic zones in the country and to encourage domestic and international investors for promotion and establishment of industrial infrastructure in the country"

The Bill which has already been passed by the Senate And the National Assembly provides unprecedented incentives and concessions to the investors in the proposed economic zones.

The ceremony was attended by Federal Ministers, parliamentarians ,senior officials and dignitaries of the business and commercial sectors... Later briefing the newsmen, spokesperson to the President, Senator Farhatulah Babar said that the SEZ BILL 2012 was originated in the Senate and was passed by it on March 8,2012. The National Assembly also passed the bill on July 13, without any amendment. He told newsmen that ,while addressing the gathering at the signing ceremony, the President said that one of the major reasons for the economic backwardness of the country has been the frequent reversal of our economic and investment policies with the change of government for political reasons. He said that it is for the first time that the President gave assent to a consensus law to ensure continuity of economic and investment policy and now it would no longer possible to change it without changing the law.

In his address, the President congratulated the Chairman Board of Investment and his team on this landmark achievement and said that he was pleased to learn that the new law was based on consensus and has the support of the economic ministries, the private sector and all other stakeholders. He said we believe in consensus and taking along all stakeholders and the SEZ Bill is an example of this policy". He said that the law will help in reducing the cost of business and will increase exports , create the jobs and enhance the rate of return to the investors. Under the new law all capital goods, machinery and equipment will get one time exemption from the custom duties and the entreprenuers will be exempted from income tax for 10years. He claimed that the new law will lay the basis of industrial development as the incentives granted to the investors will be protected by law. He said that this law lays a solid basis of industrial development in the country as the liberal incentives granted to the investors will be protected bylaw. It will enhance the investors confidence and would ensure the continuity of economic policies, the president said adding that such laws have played a major role in the economic development of China, India, Thailand and other regional countries.

The incentives announced through the SEZ Bill, include exemption from custom duties and taxes for all capital goods imported into Pakistan for the development , operation and maintenance of SEZ; exemption from all taxes on income accruable for a period 10 years starting from the date of signing of the agreement will become effective for the investors.

The Bill took more than three years for its processing as it involved large scale consultative processes with the provinces and other stakeholders . The incentive Package was approved by the Economic Coordination Committee by end 2008. The Federal Cabinet accorded its approval in 2010 The Council of Common Interest (CCI) also considered the bill due to the introduction of the 18thAmendment in the Constitution. The CCI approved the Bill in August 2011. The Bill has further undergone the microscopic examination by the Standing Committee on Law and Justice.

The law has been made to meet the global challenges of competitiveness to attract mainly the foreign direct investment with fully protacted liberal incentives, infrastructure, investor facilitation services to enhance productivity and reduce by reducing the cost of doing business. This was also aimed to create more jobs to overcome the curse of rising unemployment in the country.

The salient features of the SEZ Act 2012 include, extending to the whole of Pakistan and overriding all other laws, all SEZ whether public, public- private or private to be governed under this act. The Board of Approval ( BoA) headed by the Prime Minister with the Minister of Finance as its Vice Chairman , besides other members, will meet as frequently as necessary. All decisions will be taken by a majority of the total membership of the Board.