Gilgit-Baltistan looks to World Bank to develop business opportunities
ISLAMABAD: Emphasising the need for investment to unlock the immense hydropower potential, the Gilgit-Baltistan government has asked the World Bank to provide support and technical assistance to it in developing business and investment opportunities and facilitating partnership with the private sector.
Following in-depth consultations between Gilgit-Baltistan government and the World Bank spanning over five months, a consultation report has been prepared by the latter that speaks of the challenges the former is facing in harnessing the potential that exists in the region.
In view of its geo-strategic location, Gilgit-Baltistan has potential connectivity and trade with China and Central Asia.
According to the report, the Gilgit-Baltistan government highlighted the lack of entrepreneurship and private sector investment in the region. The economy is heavily dependent on federal grants since local revenue generation is low.
Nurturing entrepreneurship is considered essential to help small businesses grow and create economic opportunities.
The government also explained to the World Bank that the quality of education and health services were other major constraints.
The Gilgit-Baltistan government informed the World Bank that there was heavy reliance on wood due to which deforestation was taking place at a fast pace with no access to natural gas.
Figures suggest that almost 60 per cent of energy requirements in Gilgit-Baltistan are fulfilled through wood.
The priority is to provide alternative means of energy to address this issue to avoid adverse environment impact, World Bank report says.
The report highlights quality of education a major issue and says that there are distinct local needs in various districts as Hunza has 90 per cent female literacy, it is hardly five per cent in Diamer.
Health and nutrition indicators in Gilgit-Baltistan are some of the worst in the country.
The report describes tourism as a major opportunity in Gilgit-Baltistan with potential profits higher than any other sector. The major constraints are unreliable access and connectivity, lack of landing facility, limited hotel capacity and limited private sector investment.
Despite the devolution whereby provinces are allowed to manage tourism, for Gilgit-Baltistan the subject still remains with the federal government and is looked after by PTDC.
Despite being rich in mineral resources including gemstones, metallic minerals and dimension stones and industrial rocks, no geological survey has been carried out in the region.