On August 31, a presidential ordinance was promulgated to establish the Pakistan Islands Development Authority (PIDA) that will be tasked to develop and manage the islands in the internal and territorial waters of Pakistan. The Bundal and Buddo islands, on the Arabian Sea and off the coast of Karachi, will be the initial focus of the authority. Pakistan has a coastal belt of over 1,050 kilometres and there are 300 small and big islands located in Sindh coastal belt. The federal government will take control of all these islands.

The PIDA will “identify immovable properties and projects suitable for the development of schemes within them; recommend to the federal or relevant provincial government policies, laws and actions to be applied to the specified areas to enhance the international competitiveness of industry, tourism and commerce in specified areas and propose to the government incentives in relation to taxes, customs and excise duties and other fiscal incentives applicable to investors in the specified areas.”

The PIDA has been created to “initiate and maintain a continuous process of reclamation and urban planning, and identify immovable properties and projects suitable for the development of schemes within the internal and territorial waters of Pakistan.” The Authority “will promote and stimulate the specified areas as trade, investment and logistics centres and hubs, duty-free areas and international tourist destinations in line with the directions of the patron (the prime minister); recommend to the government to provide or procure immovable property or a project through any means permissible under law including compulsory acquisition, purchase, lease or license through private agreement, donation by any private party or any state land or project by any government or other public authority on such terms as may be mutually agreed between the government and the relevant transferor or provider.”

The Authority, if necessary, will prepare and approve a master or site plan of a specified area containing zoning, spatial or town planning, infrastructure development, land use and building control regulations in consonance with the planning under the applicable building and town-planning dispensation; prescribe criteria and procedure for registration, membership, possession, transfer and cancellation of immovable property in a scheme; develop procedures for allocation, allotment, lease or auction, if any, of any type of immovable property, including the procedure to transact or exchange the actual property or allotment or allocation file.

The PIDA will maintain an updated record of immovable property including title, leasehold rights, mortgage, easement, licence, tenancy and possession and collect all levies, taxes, duties, fees and charges on the transfer or possession of an immovable property, or any encumbrance thereon, under any law after agreeing on an arrangement with the relevant agency.

An Authority Fund which shall be formed, administered and controlled by the PIDA will be created. For a period of ten years, the PIDA will be exempt from payment of tax on its income, profits and gains. The authority will collect property tax charges of properties situated within specified areas. It may retain, or may lease, sell, exchange, rent or otherwise dispose of any land vested in it.

No court or other authority shall have jurisdiction to question the legality of anything done or any action taken under the PIDA ordinance by or at the instance of the authority.

The prime minister will be the patron of the PIDA and he will review its performance and may, from time to time, give to it general policy directions to implement the same, subject to the terms of the ordinance.

There will be a chairman of the authority and not less than five and not more than 11 members who will be nominated by the patron. There will also be a policy board.

Except where any powers and functions are specified in this ordinance to be exercised or performed by the government or policy board, all the powers and discretion of the PIDA will be exercised and its functions and duties will be performed by its chairman.

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