Opportunity catches CDA unprepared
ISLAMABAD, Nov 15: Next week’s D-8 summit in the city is seen by the Board of Investment (BoI) as an opportunity but all that the Capital Development Authority has to offer to attract investment from the participating countries is a Rapid Bus Transport System.
“Our officers are working on showcasing the old project when it has failed to interest any investor over the past 10 years,” a dejected CDA officer told Dawn on Thursday.
It is obvious that the cash-strapped civic authority has no money to undertake the project. Its finances have virtually dried up, allegedly because of the big spending on ill-planned projects by the city managers in the past.
Haunted by litigants and court inquiries into its allegedly shady development projects running into billions of rupees, the CDA has been desperately looking for foreign investments in the capital city. The last such investment came in 2005, from Saudi Arabia for the $350 million Centaurus apartment and hotel complex.
Even the property business is not doing good in the city which is otherwise the most preferred city of Pakistan.
“We need investment and this D-8 Summit presents an opportunity.
But we may lose it because of the incompetence that reigns CDA,” said a senior CDA officer.
What the CDA teams were doing was refurbishing old projects for presentation to the D-8 delegates, he said. Businessmen are part of the delegations coming from Turkey, Iran, Egypt, Nigeria, Iran, Malaysia and Indonesia.
“We should have something better on offer, like a rail or subway system for Islamabad, on BOT (build-operate-transfer) terms, and parking plazas, solid waste management for generating electricity – and revenue – for the city,” the officer suggested.
Other projects that could be discussed with foreign businessmen are drip irrigation of agro farms and organic vegetable supplies.
“But CDA’s financial and planners may not be willing to suggest such ideas to the chairman,” the officer said.
Another senior-ranking officer was hopeful that CDA chairman Syed Tahir Shahbaz “will weigh what the city needs and how best to seek it and may not consider putting the Rapid Bus Transport System before the potential investors from the D-8 countries”.