HIGH-POWERED BODY NEEDED TO ACHIEVE DESIRED RESULTS IN GWADAR
Interview: Colonel (R) F. Maqbool Afridi, CEO Gwadar Business Associates
May 28 - Jun 03, 2007
The development of Gwadar is really an economic feat of the present government on the back of its strategic significance and is well poised to assume the role of the engine of growth for this country.
These remarks were made by Col (retd) F. Maqbool Affridi, CEO Gwadar Business Associates, in an interview with Pakistan & Gulf Economist (PAGE). Afridi, having a deep insight about the development of Gwadar, lays great importance on the development of Gwadar for the economic glory of this country.
Afridi is so emotionally attached with the Gwadar port that he had floated the idea for developing a port city at Gwadar in 2000. He also wrote different papers on the development of Gwadar. For the last six years, he is advocating the cause of Gwadar as a free-lance advisor to the potential investors.
He has also given the concept of "'Golden Route" starting from Gwadar to Central Asian Republics and China. He strongly believes that Gwadar is destined to change the economic outlook of Pakistan.
In recognition of his efforts and interest for the development of Gwadar, Afridi was elected as the Chairman of Gwadar Builders and Developers Association (GBDA). He has a passion to convert the dream of Gwadar's development into a reality.
Col. Afridi observed that every one within and outside the country has acknowledged the efforts of the present government, especially President Musharraf, for the development of Gwadar port. While paying tributes to the efforts of the present government for the construction of Gwadar deep seaport, Afridi said actually, it was the vision envisaged by President Musharraf for the construction of Gwadar port.
Though the President has envisaged the vision keeping in view the international intellect, however, an effective follow-up is desirable for the implementation of scheme of things in accordance with the spirit and soul of the project. The reason for ineffective implementation of the project could be that the President is thinking and moving at the international pace but the people responsible for materializing the idea in its true perspective do not have the mental mobility nor capability or capacity to move in a matching pace. The President must take cognizance of this and introduce some remedial measures, he suggested.
Afridi said that he firmly believes that Gwadar is a reality and shall come up to its momentum of potentials. It needs only an individual whose head and shoulder shall work together and I believe in 160 million people we shall find one.
It is a universal fact that mega projects have inbuilt mega problems. Similarly, Gwadar development has to pass through many twists and turns starting from the drawing board till arrival of the ship and so on. Though the govt had a very positive and timely initiative to construct the port, the real challenge is ahead i.e how to operate and develop the whole area as everything is co-related to each other.
In order to achieve the desired results, Afridi has made following suggestions for the challenges and implementation phase:
Dedicated Team: To create dedicated team from all over Pakistan which has a vision and abilities to implement the things on ground in all segments. We have capable people in civil services, defence forces as well as in private sector who could be hired or deputed.
To have a marketing policy at international level to attract Pakistanis living abroad as well as foreigners. It will have multiple advantages in the shape of money, techniques and trends, etc. The government shall invite and involve all the stakeholders (Pakistanis as well as foreigners) who are interested in Gwadar for their businesses and of course for their hidden motive (not to mention). This can be done by our embassies as well as tourism department, etc.
The government must have a concrete policy with regard to all businesses in Gwadar. Each day a ban on land transfer shall have negative effect on the development process as well as it will discourage the investors. The policies must have better terms and conditions than Dubai so as to attract the trade and business at international level.
Procurement of land by the government in bit and pieces is discouraging the investors. The government shall procure the land once for all, so that the investors are sure that their land will not be procured by the government. The government must pay the market rate against the land purchase and remit the amount as early as possible.
Government should have a team of specialists whether Pakistani or foreigners to develop Gwadar. The foreigners shall be hired for all the development works in the shape of port operation, trade & business and other activities being generated from one business to another. In the process our people will also get trained and will be able to undertake other projects/ports.
Commenting on the proposal, Afridi remarked that construction of Somiani port is a wise decision but with unwise timings, this project should be deferred till the Gwadar port becomes fully operational.
He suggested that an honorary committee of the stake holders should be formed at Gwadar including the locals with a primary objective to report on the development work in Gwadar. Constituted by the President, this committee shall keep an eye on all the development work and on the pulse of the people of the area. The committee shall meet the President on quarterly basis with a written report on the progress and development of Gwadar.