FAISALABAD: All economic indicators have improved considerably and with the completion of new power houses and import of LNG, the energy crisis will be over, which will attract new Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Pakistan, said state minister/chairman, Board of Investment (BoI), Dr Miftah Ismail.
Addressing a function at Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) here on Monday, he said that just three or four years back the stock market was dwindling at 19000 points, which has now crossed the barrier of 55000 points. Similarly, the GDP has jumped to 5 per cent from 2.8 per cent in 2013.
He said that agriculture production has also recorded a sizeable increase which will help in containing inflation around 3.5 per cent. However, the textile package may further increase its effect up to 4.1 per cent which is reasonable keeping in view the current circumstances. He said that despite all positive indicators, the decline in exports is very alarming and the government was taking necessary steps to stabilise exports.
He said that China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a major project and in its first phase, $51 billion are expected to be invested, out of which $34 billion have been earmarked for power plants.
He clarified that this is not a loan and these plants are being installed on the same terms and conditions which were allowed by Benazir Bhutto in 1994 and by Musharraf in 2002. Responding to a question about five power plants being installed in Punjab, he said that three are being funded by the provincial government, while two are being installed by private sector.
He said that the government was also considering a proposal to privatise these plants immediately after their completion.
BoI Chairman Dr Miftah Ismail said that portfolio of National Highway Authority (NHA) was only Rs 30 billion when the government took over the office. Now, it has increased to Rs 140 billion, he said and added that a comprehensive road network was being laid across the country including Multan-Lahore Motorway.
He said the Chinese government had provided soft loan for this purpose which could be easily repayable from the toll collected from Chinese carriers.
He said that nine industrial zones had been proposed under CPEC and the same facilities would be provided in these zones to the Pakistanis as well as Chinese investors to set up their industrial units.
Responding to a question about multiplicity of taxes, Dr Miftah Ismail said that approximately 16 to 17 agencies were collecting different taxes. "We are making efforts to withdraw at least one or two of the taxes", he added.
Regarding ease of doing business, he said that improvement in this regard was visible but we have to do much more to attract and facilitate the local as well as foreign investors.
The BoI chairman assured the local business community that their legitimate interests would be protected at all costs and in this connection, he would prefer joint ventures with Chinese partners.
He asked the FCCI members to visit China and explore the Chinese investors who could launch joint ventures in Pakistan. He said the BoI would fully support them in materializing these joint ventures. He further said that M-3 Industrial City had already been declared Export Processing Zone (EPZ) but it was not possible to declare entire city as EPZ.
Responding to yet another question, he said that industrial sector in Punjab was getting 45 percent natural gas at local price while the remaining LNG was being supplied to them at international rates.
He also contradicted news that 600,000 Chinese will come to Balochistan every year. He said the government had issued only 2500 visas to Chinese.
Earlier, Engineer Muhammad Saeed Sheikh President FCCI in his welcome address lauded the efforts of the government who had been providing capital for establishment of new industrial units at lowest interest rate.
He also welcomed the government's decision to zero rate five important export sectors of the country and said that Rs 180 billion export package would also help in the revival of textile sector.
Regarding FDI, he said that 70 percent of it come from China and Netherlands which was being invested in power and food sectors.
Later, FCCI shields were presented to BoI chairman Dr. Miftah Ismail and BoI Secretary Zhar Ali Chaudhry.
Source: Business Recorder