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Punjab body eyes global projects

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The Punjab Central Business District Development Authority intends to expand the scope of its expertise beyond Pakistan by participating in global infrastructure development projects, especially in the Arab states, said Chief Executive Officer of the authority Imran Amin.

“The talent and skill sets of our entire team are rare, as we are well aware of the issues which block development. I am sure no other country in the world can go through that number of development phases of any project as we do,” Amin remarked while speaking exclusively to The Express Tribune in an interview.

Though the development authority is merely two and a half years old, it has managed to win the trust of both local and foreign investors. Apart from investors, the Punjab government is also using its diverse range of expertise in infrastructure development projects, which spans across the province.

“We are just waiting to finish things in our central business district, our star project that will transform the landscape of urban development in Lahore and facilitate businesses as per international standards,” Amin said.

“We expect that the contribution of Lahore’s economy to the national exchequer, which as per our estimates stands at $2.2 billion, will jump up to $4.5 billion annually, once work on the central business district is completed.”

The Punjab development authority is building a state-of-the-art business hub in Lahore with skyscrapers, which will redefine the skyline of the city. The district has different clusters and each cluster has its own niche.

According to Amin, a diplomatic enclave is also part of the central business district, where many embassies have already purchased land whereas some top hotel chains are also entering the district.

“All these developments come due to the consistent hard work of the authority and once completed, we can have something to show to the world for securing global infrastructure development projects, especially in Saudi Arabia, which is now open for development,” the CEO stressed.

Saudi Arabia has coastal belts and it is planning to expand and create new cities. The kingdom has a population equal to that of Punjab and has cities near borders.

“We can tell them how to plan and expand as they do have issues on the border side. We, in Lahore, have already planned restricted and non-restricted city zones near Pakistan-India border, so our expertise will help the Saudis in perfect urban development, as they have so much wealth,” he said.

“By providing our services abroad, I want the Punjab development authority to represent Pakistan, just like Emaar, a leading real estate developer, which represents Dubai globally; this is our vision.”

However, the authority seems to be overloaded with scores of projects it has currently undertaken. It has already initiated the construction of the Nawaz Sharif IT city in Lahore, whereas recently the Punjab government has approved the building of eight central business districts across the province.

In addition, the authority is looking to construct another uptown in Lahore to stretch business activities across the provincial capital.

Amin emphasised that for perfect urban development, business centres should be established as per expertise of any city. “If we build a sports city in Sialkot, it makes sense, as the city is famous for producing sports goods; same is the case with other cities.”

Elaborating, he said, “why should we burden Lahore only, it will choke the city; we have to distribute businesses and make developments according to the expertise of a particular area? We are open for development of anything, even if the Sindh government requests Punjab, the development authority can develop bundle islands, located off the coast of Karachi.”

Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2024.

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