"Investment prospects in Pakistan"
Existing investors, domestic or
foreign needs to be taken care as a policy to attract investment in Pakistan Dr. Hafiz
By Amanullah Bashar
Jan 29 - Feb 04, 2001
Dr. Hafiz Shaikh, the provincial minister for finance has identified
Pakistan Railways, WAPDA, KESC, Pakistan Steel, PIA, PTCL and the Banking and financial
institutions in the public sectors as the main reasons for bringing economic and financial
mess in Pakistan.
Speaking as the guest speaker at a seminar on "Investment
Prospects in Pakistan" organized by the Management Association of Pakistan (MAP) the
minister departing from the conventional style of the ministers as the spokesman of the
government pin pointed the key areas in his impressive discourse where fundamental changes
are required to restore conducive investment climate in Pakistan.
He did not approve the traditional campaigns through media or
conferences for persuading the potential investors, instead he strongly suggested that the
existing investors both Pakistanis as well from abroad be given fair treatment with
consistent policies and effective follow up to ensure proper implementation of the
policies. The minister in his dynamic way of analyzing the situation observed that the
happy and satisfied existing investors can play more effective role to attract the
potential investors hence there is the need for minimum controls and maximum facilities
with an assurance of predictably and stability of the policies.
He said that there is no dearth of areas, which offer attractive
opportunities to the investors the only thing required, is to restore their confidence. He
regretted that while speaking about Sindh the size of the Annual Development plan has been
reduced merely to Rs3 billion while the flight of capital out of the province has also
been reported due to various reasons. There is an immediate need to catch up with the pace
of progress elsewhere. He said that in order to achieve the goal various task forces have
been instituted with an object of revival of the economy, urban revival and optimum growth
of the agriculture sector in the province. Unfortunately, the provincial board of
investment which was formed in the past was never met and lying idle since long. Steps are
being taken to energize this board and committees have been formed for privatization in
the province. The idea is to privatize Karachi Water and Sewerage Board to improve the
functions of this important organization with especial emphasis of providing cheaper and
potable water to the citizens of province.
Efforts have been made to exploit the opportunities available in the
Information Technology sector. Karachi, which has over 75 per cent software of IT skilled
personnel but the 75 per cent export made by Lahore. We have to find out the
reasons why this largest city is lagging behind in this respect. He said that Karachi will
be the venue of an international IT Conference to be held in coming March. This conference
is likely to open a number of opportunities in the IT sector, he said.
He said that currently the investors have to go through as many as 40
federal agencies and over 20 provincial agencies or setting up the projects. He said that
he has recommended the government to reduce the number of agencies and evolve one window
operation to curtail the role of these agencies. He said that stability and predictability
of the policies is the key to attract the investors. He underlined three points to achieve
the target of investment in Pakistan i.e. policy, market and follow up. It is easy to
bring an investor for the first time but he would never come back he was handled badly in
respect of consistency of the policy, hence the follow up is the most important factor in
retaining and attracting the investors, he recommended.
Speaking on the occasion, Waseem Haqqie, Chairman, Board of Investment
(BOI) said that present government has taken serious corrective measures to streamline
pace of foreign investment in the country.
He said that image building of the country is one of the important
areas of the investment policy to restore the confidence of the investors. Haqqie recalled
that freezing of foreign currency accounts and long dragged dispute between WAPDA and
Hubco were the issues, which caused serious damage to the investment climate in Pakistan.
The economic managers of the country have successfully overcome these problems and efforts
are being made to create an investor friendly climate in Pakistan. He identified three
areas where especial attention is being focused by the government to attract the foreign
investment. These areas include textile sector, Information Technology and Oil and gas
He was confident that the new investment policy might help achieving
positive results. So far the oil and gas sector and IT have attracted commitment for $1.5
billion investment out of which $300 million is directed towards IT.
He said that aggressive market campaign is also under way through
untraditional sources especially through image building of the country. The credit rating
of the country which has gone down to the minus region has been improved to B+ as a result
of concerted efforts of the government indicated in the approval of the IMF program and
other donor agencies in the Paris and London Clubs. In order to achieve the targets, the
government has decided oppoint prominent Pakistani businessmen as commercial attaches
abroad, which hopefully produce better results.