Investment climate lacks consistency, facilitation

Former state minister insists investors need handholding, assurances

Our Correspondent January 22, 2023


Former minister of state and Board of Investment (BOI) chairman Muhammad Azfar Ahsan has emphasised that investors need handholding and assurances, as their profits go back into developing infrastructure in Pakistan.

“One success story creates opportunities for others to follow,” he remarked while speaking at a roundtable titled “Pakistan’s Investment Climate: The Way Forward,” hosted by the Institute of Policy Studies.

Ahsan pointed out that Pakistan’s foreign direct investment (FDI) portfolio was less than $3 billion, which was not sustainable for a country of over 230 million people. “Our investment climate is challenging for the lack of consistency and facilitation.”

He insisted that Pakistan must focus on six to eight countries as best case studies for attracting investment. “Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan’s investment strategies are excellent models to follow. These economies have shown remarkable development in a short time,” he said.

“We need to create a similar ecosystem with simultaneous focus on G2G, G2B and B2B.”

Talking about the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) project, Ahsan noted that though CPEC was a great example of FDI, not much was being done to productively utilise the opportunity.

He mentioned that the Chinese government had already established Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in 22 countries and BOI had recommended that it should be the top agenda in meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping.

Similarly, according to Ahsan, the Saudi Arabian government has funding available for eight priority sectors. Their biggest desire is to engage Pakistan as a food security partner and they want to establish an agri-zone in Pakistan, in addition to an oil refinery in Balochistan.

Unfortunately, “the delay has been at our end, as we have failed to deliver ready projects,” he lamented.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 22nd, 2023.

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