Pakistan vows to remove red tape to boost foreign direct investment, economic growth
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Planning Ahsan Iqbal on Wednesday announced the government’s plans to remove obstacles in the way of foreign direct investment in the country in a bid to boost its economic growth.
Pakistan constituted the Special Investment Facilitation Center (SIFC) last month in which the country’s army chief would also be a member, granting Pakistan’s powerful military a seat at the economic table. The council, whose meetings would be led by the prime minister, will aim to attract foreign investment.
Iqbal’s comments came after an apex committee of the SIFC, chaired by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, was held in Islamabad. The meeting was attended by the provincial chief ministers, top federal ministers, and the army chief.
“The SIFC is an important step toward boosting direct foreign investment, trust of investors, and improving Pakistan’s economy,” the minister said during a news conference. He added the council would help develop different sectors including agriculture, energy, information technology, minerals, and defense production.
Cash-strapped Pakistan received a breather last week when the International Monetary Fund (IMF) signed a staff-level pact with Islamabad for a $3 billion stand-by agreement (SBA). With its reserves declining rapidly, a weak currency, and decades-high inflation, Pakistan is in desperate need of foreign investment and external financing.
Iqbal said provincial governments and all relevant institutions were on board in facilitating investors to bring foreign investment into the country by removing all hurdles such as red tape.
“The visa issuance to foreign investors and all other important tasks would be completed on a fast track under the banner of the SIFC,” he said, adding that this would help boost the country’s economic growth.
Iqbal said that a policy is being devised to boost IT exports, encourage joint ventures in the field and bring foreign investment into the sector. “It has been decided to bring the defense production industry under the SIFC banner keeping in view its huge potential,” he said.
The minister said that Pakistan was manufacturing sophisticated weapons from pistols to tanks and airplanes to hi-tech military hardware. These weapons were not only fulfilling domestic needs but also being exported to earn foreign exchange.
Talking about a recent staff-level agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a $3 billion loan package, he said the agreement would have a positive impact on the country’s economy.
“The SIFC will help open a new door to the country’s prosperity and will act as a platform to boost our exports,” he added.
Source: Arab News