Shaukat presents Pakistan as lucrative destination for world investors

SHAMIM AHMED RIZVI, Bureau Chief, Islamabad
Apr 09 - 15, 2007

Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz forcefully presented Pakistan as a lucrative destination for the world investors in his keynote address at the 2007 Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference, held in Hong Kong on March 27. The one-day conference was attended by heads of various multinationals, leading investors and businessmen.

The authorities in the Board of Investment are expecting a significant positive response as a result of this conference. A number of participants showed keen interest in some sectors and, during meetings on the sidelines of the conference made inquiries. Some of them have decided to send teams of their senior executives to Pakistan to hold detailed investigations and discussion with the relevant Pakistani authorities.

Mr. Shaukat Aziz, in his address at the conference, reiterated Pakistan's commitment to maintain a stable and peaceful environment for local and foreign investment and urged the foreign investors to take advantage of vast opportunities for investment available in different fields as the country has been creating a conducive environment to make it a regional hub for investment, trade and transport.

Referring to the government's reform agenda, the Prime Minister said that it was based on effective implementation of liberalization, deregulation and privatisation policies of a private sector competitive market economy. "We are establishing a new statistical authority, reinforcing our Security and Exchange Commission and deepening our capital markets to provide maximum benefits and opportunities to the investors," he maintained.

According to Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, the financial sector is now primarily owned and managed by the private sector as Pakistan is creating a modern private sector-driven competitive market economy that meets the aspirations of the people. He said that Pakistan offers vast opportunities for investment in energy, oil and gas, mining, engineering, automobiles, infrastructure development, information technology and telecom, financial and agriculture sectors. "We also have a sound and transparent privatisation programme, as well as opportunities for pubic-private partnership," he added.

Shaukat Aziz said that maximum local and foreign investment is being received in various sectors where the government had undertaken reforms such as telecom, oil and gas, banking and financial sector. He said: "Pakistan is open for business, the economy is vibrant and the business environment is highly favourable for local and foreign investors. There are unlimited opportunities for making investment is green field projects, privatisation programme and capital markets."

The Prime Minister stated that Pakistan has undergone a positive transformation during the last seven years and is poised to be a leading emerging economy of the world. There has been a rapidly growing middle class fuelling unprecedented growth as the country is rapidly transforming into a major market economy with large product services and labour markets and a world-class manufacturing and servicing center of the region.

"Certainly Pakistan is rapidly transforming into a major market economy with large product, services and labour markets. Per capital income will be doubled in the next 8 to 10 years and will exceed $ 5000 by 2016. The country will continue to grow at current rates of 7 to 8 percent a year; the economy will be amongst the top six or seven emerging economies of the 21st century as Goldman Sachs has placed Pakistan in Its N-11 rankings. It has the scale and talent to be a world-class manufacturing and servicing centre of the region," he said. It may be mentioned that the double-digit manufacturing growth rates will lead the country as major manufacturing hub with gleaming new factories producing quality goods from textiles to engineering, consumer to pharmaceuticals, chemicals to hi-tech products at prices that domestic and global markets demand, he added. Referring to Pakistan's strategic location, the Prime Minister said that the country is poised to exploit the competitive advantage and destined to become the logistics, trade, tourism, energy and manufacturing hub that connects China, Central Asia, West Asia and the Middle East with India and South Asia.

Shaukat Aziz recalled that the government has been taking measures to ensure food, energy and water security in the region through providing trade, oil and energy corridor for the region. The effective implementation of liberalization, deregulation and privatisation policies is creating an enabling environment to benefit from opportunities unleashed by globalization. The second-generation reforms are designed to create effective institutions of a private sector competitive market economy and the government has rationalized and reduced the number of taxes for the benefit of the investors. Referring to Pakistan's road to success, the Prime Minister said that new technology is being introduced at a frenzied pace and new companies are entering the fray.

Pakistan is now the fastest growing telecom market in the world with over 40 million new connections in last three years and 1.5 million connections every month putting the country on the world telecom map, besides the tele-density has been increased from 3 to 30 percent in the last couple of years. The construction activity is at an all time high with the development of new hotels, commercial properties and housing projects leading the growth. The government plans to create value addition in the agriculture sector through a new green revolution, he told the conference participants.