BoI chairman optimistic over economic outlook

Says all indicators are positive as country en route to resolving energy crisis

Imran Rana February 28, 2017

FAISALABAD: All economic indicators have improved considerably and with the completion of new power houses and import of liquefied natural gas (LNG) the energy crisis will be over, said Board of Investment (BoI) Chairman Dr Miftah Ismail.

Speaking at the Faisalabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FCCI) on Monday, he said that just three or four years back the stock market was dwindling at 19,000 but crossed the 50,000-point barrier recently.

Similarly, GDP growth has clocked in at close to 5% from 2.8% in 2013.

He said that the agriculture production has also recorded a sizeable increase that will help in containing inflation around 3.5%.

However, the textile package may further increase its effect up to 4.1% which is reasonable within the given circumstances.

Ismail said that despite all the positive indicators, the decline in exports is alarming and the government was taking necessary steps to stabilise exports.

He added that the energy crisis was a major impediment in attracting domestic as well as foreign direct investment (FDI).

According to Ismail, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor 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.

Responding to a question about five power plants being installed in Punjab, he said, “three of are being funded by the provincial government while two are being installed by the private sector.”

Ismail said that the government was also considering a proposal to privatise these plants immediately after their completion.

The BoI chairman said that the portfolio of the National Highway Authority was only Rs30 billion when the government took over. Now it has increased to Rs140 billion and a comprehensive road network is being laid across the country including Multan-Lahore motorway.

Responding to a question about multiplicity of taxes, he said that approximately 16 to 17 agencies are collecting different taxes. “We are making efforts to withdraw at least one or two of these in addition to clubbing the remaining taxes,” he added.

Regarding ease of doing business, Ismail said that improvement is visible but “we have to do much more to attract and facilitate local as well as foreign investors.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2017.

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