I.I. CHUNDRIGAR ROAD
PAKISTAN'S KEY FINANCIAL DISTRICT

Another 'financial harbor' is in the pipeline with the assistance of Kuwait Investment Holding.

AMANULLAH BASHAR
Apr 09 - 15, 2007

Commercial banks and financial institutions have provided financial assistance open heartedly for the reconstruction, development and face-lifting of I.I. Chundrigar Road that houses the head offices of all the leading commercial banks and financial institutions, including Karachi Stock Exchange and State Bank of Pakistan. Though not officially declared as yet I.I. Chundrigar Road is considered as the first financial district of Pakistan.

Realizing the importance of the prime location of I.I. Chundrigar Road, the city government decided to develop this artery as a model for the rest of the country. In this connection, Governor State Bank Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, accompanied by City Nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal, laid the stone in front of the State Bank at a formal ceremony, which was attended among others by all heads of the commercial banks and financial institutions.

Speaking at the stone-laying ceremony last week, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar said that the central bank as well as the commercial banks are committed to lend a supporting hand for infrastructure development in the country. The development of I.I. Chundrigar Road to the status of a financial hub of the country is reflected by the commitment which is being carried out with the financial assistance of the commercial banks.

I.I. Chundrigar Road is being developed at an estimated cost of Rs220 million, which is a manifestation of public-private partnership. City Nazim Mustafa Kamal assured the audience that the beautification and development of I.I. Chundrigar Road would be completed in four months.

Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, while commending the efforts of the presidents of commercial banks for their contribution in this project, expressed the hope that institutional mechanism established for the implementation of this project would help ensure its completion in record time. The SBP will also make contribution to the project after obtaining approval from its board of directors, she assured.

In order to meet the growing infrastructure requirements of the banking industry, the central bank and commercial banks in consultations with the concerned government departments have floated a proposal to set up a financial district in Karachi.

FINANCIAL HARBOR

Well-placed sources told Pakistan & Gulf Economist that Kuwait Investment Holding, a major stakeholder in the banking and energy sector of Pakistan, is also keen to develop a 'Financial Harbor' in Pakistan. In this regard, the representatives of Kuwait Investment Holding Company are arriving Pakistan on April 9 to hold talks with the relevant quarters. They are also setting up an oil refinery at Port Qasim. Sources were of the view that if the projects of financial harbor and oil refinery materialized, they would be bringing an investment of over $3 billion - a major event in the financial regime of the country.

Dr. Shamshad Akhtar said that the proposed financial district would have state-of-the-art facilities, adding that a steering committee, headed by her, has already been set up. Other committee members would be drawn from Pakistan Banks Association and City District Government.

Speaking on the occasion, City Nazim Syed Mustafa Kamal said that the reconstruction of I.I. Chundrigar Road would be completed within four months. In order to strengthen the security of this vital business area, a network of close circuit cameras would also be installed on the refurbished I.I. Chundrigar Road, he added.

Karachi - a financial and commercial hub of the country - is now regarded as one of the 12-mega cities of the world.

The City Nazim lauded the role of the financial institutions for providing Rs22 crores for the reconstruction and beautification of this important road. The City Nazim said that construction work of the road would be carried out in three shifts, adding that the posting orders for contractors, consultants and engineers of City District Government Karachi have been issued and now the road would be made a model artery within a period of four months, wherein most modern equipment of close circuit cameras would be installed to ensure security and safety of this business center. Initially, the duration of completing work on I.I. Chundrigar Road was one year, however, the work would now be completed on war footing within four months in view of the importance of the road.

The City Nazim says that Karachi is not only the backbone of the economy but also a major commercial and industrial city of Pakistan. The development of Karachi is basically the development of Pakistan as this city generates 68 percent revenue for the national exchequer, besides providing a transit corridor for Afghanistan and Central Asian countries.

According to him the budget of Karachi is higher than many provinces, as it is providing means for earning bread and butter to the people from all corners of the country. The stable law and order situation in the city as well as public-private partnership have allowed the government to sign agreements worth billions of dollars for setting up mega projects in the city, which would ultimately benefit the people of Pakistan by offering job openings on the back of economic activities, he added.