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Efforts on to make country key investment destination: BoI chief


Chairman Board of Investment Naeem Y Zamindar has said that efforts are well on the way to make Pakistan a key destination for foreign and local investments. While speaking at the Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry here on Monday, the BOI Chairman said the foreign direct investment is increasing gradually and a target of US $3.7 billion has been set for the on-going year.

He said Pakistan has vast opportunities both for foreign and local investors in various sectors of the economy including textile, energy, agriculture, health and education. Special attention is being given to the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) under the game changer project of CPEC, he said. The volume of Chinese economy is expected to be $30 trillion within the next 25 years and Pakistan can grab huge benefits as economies of both the countries are going to be merged under the CPEC. He said the cost of doing business in Pakistan must be reduced as the business sector is driver of economy. "We want to brand Pakistan as entrepreneur future country by introducing innovations and modern industrial concepts on SEZs and Priories Economic Zones (PEZs)," the Chairman BOI said.
LCCI Senior Vice President Khawaja Khawar Rashid said there are 48 countries which have signed bilateral investment agreements with Pakistan but their share in total investments in Pakistan is negligible therefore the BOI should target these countries. In fiscal year 2014, the size of total foreign direct investment in Pakistan was around US $4.44 billion which contracted to $2.48 billion in fiscal year 2017 registering 44 percent decline. The same trend was also witnessed in July-November when FDI registered 43.6 percent decline.
He said special Economic Zone Act was promulgated in September 2012. Among the fiscal benefits to foreign investors, one time exemption from custom duties and taxes for all capital goods was expected to turn around the economic activities but it did not happen that way. Similarly, under Investment Policy 2013 there was equal treatment to local and foreign investment and the foreign equity up to 100 percent was allowed but these steps did not produce healthy results. The investment to GDP ratio in Pakistan is around 16 percent which should be around 30 percent.
Speaking on the occasion, vice president Zeshan Khalil said that the Bank of China has started its operation in Pakistan. The BOI can make use of bond market by way of issuing special bonds to draw funds from Chinese investors. Pakistan is still falling behind India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in Baseline Profitability Index (BPI) report which indicates that Pakistan has to take number of steps to improve its rank among the FDI friendly countries, he added. Khalil said apart from the USA, China, Luxembourg, UAE and UK, new investors from other countries should be encouraged to consider Pakistan for investments. He outlined reasons for low level of FDI including political instability, policy ad-hocism, high cost of doing business, poor law and order situation and corruption. Favourable business climate for the foreign investors is need of the hour for which the BOI must take measures on war footing basis.