BALOCHISTAN — THE UNLEASHED POTENTIAL OF $58 BILLION P.A.
The Gifts of Nature remaining Untapped...
July 09 - 15, 2007
ECONOMY OF BALOCHISTAN
Economy of this large province is largely dependent on the production of natural gas, coal, and minerals. Apart from Quetta (which is the provincial capital), the infrastructure is still in the developmental stage, yet lagging far behind other parts of Pakistan. Tourism remains limited but has increased due to the exotic appeal of the province. Limited farming in the east and fishing along the Arabian Sea coastline are other forms of income and sustenance for the local populations. Due to the tribal lifestyle of many Baloch and Brahui, animal husbandry is important as are trading bazaars found throughout the province.
DEVELOPMENTAL PROJECTS UNDERWAY
Though the province remains largely underdeveloped, there are currently several major development projects in progress in Balochistan, including the construction of a new deep sea port at the strategically important town of Gwadar. The port is projected to be the hub of an energy and trade corridor to and from China and the Central Asian republics. There is considerable Chinese involvement in the project, leading some to consider Gwadar it as the Chinese outpost on the Arabian Sea. The total cost of the project is estimated at more than US$2 billion. China has also invested in a coastal highway to link Gwadar with Pakistan's largest city, Karachi. Further west is the Mirani Dam multipurpose project, on the River Dasht, 50 kilometres west of Turbat in the Makran Division. It will provide dependable irrigation supplies for the development of agriculture and add more than 35,000 km≤ of arable land. There is also Chinese involvement in the nearby Saindak gold and copper mining project.
ECONOMIC POTENTIAL ANALYSIS
According to figures given below, Balochistan has the potential to generate $58 billion per year. Following are the analysis of economic potential of the province:
Mineral [Revenue $1.5 billion per year]
The main attraction of Balochistan's mineral sector is its unexplored geological potential. The territory is based on the geological belt with known world-class mineral deposits that could generate several billion dollars in revenues annually. More than 50 metallic and non-metallic minerals have been discovered in Balochistan. Metallic ores are chromites, copper, gold, silver, iron ore, lead and zinc, while the non-metallic include barite, marble, granite, gypsum, limestone, coal, dolomite, calcite, silica sand, and various building/engineering stones. The Rekodiq project is estimated to produce 200,000 tons of copper and 400,000 ounces of gold per year. Saindek mines produce 15,800 tons of copper, 53,000 ounces of gold and 106,000 ounces of silver per year. In the international market, copper, gold and silver are currently traded at about $5,000 per ton, $600 per ounce, and $12 per ounce, respectively. At the current market value, it's estimated that just the value of these three mineral deposits can generate $1.11 billion per year.
Agriculture [Revenue $250 million per year]
Balochistan possesses enormous economic potential in farming, livestock, and fisheries. These resources provide the base for setting up a large number of agro-based industries.
FARMING: Only 2.06 million acres of land is cultivated in Balochistan. Naseerabad, Jafarabad, Dera Murad Jamali and Usta Mohammed and many areas of central Balochistan are considered agricultural regions. Yet, with limitation of irrigation water, yields per hectare of several crops are highest in the region such as those of dates, barley, sorghum, millet, pulses, onions, potatoes, chilies and fodders, while those of rice, sugar-cane, tobacco, gram, mash and castor bean are the second highest.
LIVESTOCK: Balochistan is a pastoral economy. Livestock is the primary source of livelihood for about 67 percent of the population. Balochistan provides 40% of Pakistan's livestock requirements. The leather, carpet and pharmaceutical industries are the main consumers of livestock downstream products.
FISHERIES: Balochistan has a 1,000-km long coastal belt along the Arabian Sea. It has huge potential for development of fisheries. The enormous fish and seafood potential is yet to be fully tapped. As the diversity of marine life indicates, the coastline is one of the most productive marine ecosystems of the world. According to an estimate, 60 species of fish and 10 of shrimps, including the best in the world, are found in these waters.
Gawadar Port [Revenue $10 billion per year]
Located outside the Straight of Hormuz, Gwadar Port will offer direct road access to Afghanistan, Central Asian States, and China. Its location at the mouth of the Persian Gulf and at the opposite end of the strategic choke points of Straits of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman enhances its strategic importance. The Port could accommodate 13 multipurpose berths, each 200 meters long with a 5-km approach channel and the capacity for vessels up to 50,000 DWT container ships, 100,000 DWT dry bulk carriers, and up to 200,000 DWT oil tankers. It is assured that Gwadar Port would usher in a new era of economic development, industrial growth, and efficient communication network. Balochistan will definitely witness rapid progress and prosperity.
Gas & Oil Pipeline [Revenue $2 billion per year]
There are three major pipeline projects on the books. The merging point of all these three pipelines will create opportunities for Baloch industrialists to develop value added downstream industries, such as oil refinery, fertilizer plants, pharmaceutical, petrochemical, etc.
PIPELINE #1: About 1,000-km of the total 1,400-km gas pipeline costing about $3.2 billion connects Iran's Persian Gulf South Pars gas field to the Indian boarder will pass through Baloch territory. Transshipment fee from this project will produce $500 million per year.
PIPELINE #2: The $2.5 billion, 1,674-km Central Asia Oil Pipeline will connect Kazakhstan's Tengez Oil Fields to Gwadar via Turkmenistan and Afghanistan. Transshipment fee from this project will produce $650 million per year.
PIPELINE #3: The $1.88 billion Gulf-South Asia (GUSA) pipeline project will have a 1,610-km long pipeline running offshore along Balochistan's coastline from Qatar up to Jiwani. This project will generate $450 million per year.
US Air Bases [Revenue $600 million per year]
Currently, Dalbandin and Pasni air bases are leased to the US government. It is estimated that Pakistan is receiving about $250 million per year for each air base. The US forces spend about $50 million a year locally to buy fuel and other supplies for each base.
Foreign Remittances [Revenue $1.5 billion per year]
The 70,000 Baloch who live in Turkmenistan do not remit any funds to Balochistan. But, from the 3 million expatriate Baloch who are living primarily in the Middle East, it is estimated that only 1.5 million of them are remitting about $1,000/year each to their families in Balochistan.
Tourism [Revenue $150 million per year]
By having a democratic, liberal and secular government in place, Balochistan has the potential to attract global tourism to its coastal region. In 2005, over 2 million tourists traveled to Iran and Pakistan. It is safe to assume that Balochistan can attract over 200,000 tourists per year. According to the World Tourism Organization, 698 million people traveled to a foreign country in the year 2000, spending more than $478 billion; on the average, they spent about $685 per visit. International tourism receipts combined with passenger transport currently total more than $575 billion - making tourism the world's number one export earner, ahead of automotive products, chemicals, petroleum and food. The tourism industry generates substantial economic benefits. Tourism is one of the top five export categories for as many as 83% of countries and is a main source of foreign exchange earnings for at least 38% of countries in the world. The main positive economic impacts of tourism relate to foreign exchange earnings, contributions to government revenues, and generation of employment and business opportunities.
TIME TO UNLEASH THE POTENTIAL
The above-mentioned economic facts and figures truly depict the potentials that exist in the Balochistan region and can be utilized by the government to add on to the revenues. This would need major and rather speedy infrastructural development work, which can have fruits of a lifetime...