PM promises ‘blanket support’ for Saudi investment

Shehbaz pledges to ease path for FDI; Saudi delegation signals strong boost for Pak economy

May 07, 2024
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. PHOTO: APP


Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Monday expressed his satisfaction with the “solid and tangible progress” achieved during the Saudi business delegation’s interaction with the Pakistani counterparts, saying that he expected solid agreements worth billions of dollars investment soon.

Addressing a dinner reception hosted for the visiting Saudi delegation, led by Assistant Minister for Investment Ibrahim Al Mubarak, the prime minister assured his government’s “blanket support to the Saudi investment in Pakistan.

Chief of Army Staff Gen Syed Asim Munir, federal ministers, members of the 50-strong Saudi delegation, Saudi ambassador to Pakistan, and senior officials from relevant ministries were present during the reception.

Shehbaz said that the government supported the Saudi investors and businessmen to accomplish their future projects in Pakistan expeditiously with joint ventures and replicate them within a short period of time for the mutual benefits of the people of both countries.

“It is not the government’s job to do businesses, but it has to offer policy frameworks, act like a catalyst and remove all the hurdles for speedy achievement of economic targets. Therefore, the government has resolved to remove all the bureaucratic hurdles and red tape in the way of foreign investment,” he said.

“The SIFC [Special Investment Facilitation Council] is the very robust and all-encompassing vehicle to attain all those projects in the interest of people of Pakistan and the Saudi investors, leading to further strengthening of mutual cooperation and partnership.”

The prime minister noted that the SIFC model was acceptable to the Saudi delegation and they were fully satisfied with the existing opportunities. He added that the Saudi investors could earn profits from diverse projects if they are provided a mechanism free of troubles, bureaucratic hurdles and red tape.

Shehbaz recalled his visit to Saudi Arabia during Ramazan, and termed his meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as “a wonderful interaction”. He said he was deeply impressed with his forward looking vision that transformed Saudi Arabia in many ways.

“Saudi Arabia always stood with Pakistan through thick and thin. If we thank them, we can’t for their generosity for the last seven decades,” he said. He also said that the Saudi delegation’s interaction with their Pakistani counterparts would further enhance the bilateral bonds of brotherhood and friendship.

Speaking at the reception, Al Mubarak said that their visit was a testimony to the deep friendship and strategic partnership between the two countries. On the directives of their leadership, the Saudi minister said, they moved swiftly to explore partnership with Pakistan.

He also lauded response of the private sector that interacted with them, adding that the relationship between the two brotherly countries was very strong and the both countries could achieve shared economic objectives together.

Earlier, addressing the Pakistan-Saudi Arab Investment Forum, Al Mubarak said that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were major economic partners and allies, as they always supported each other with a common economic vision.
He emphasised that Saudi companies were ready to invest in Pakistan and contribute to its economic development,

adding that Pakistan had the resources and full of potential and Saudi investors would help in the country’s economic development.

The Saudi minister stated that the two countries were “bound in historical and religious ties, which paved the way for our economic relations”. He added that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia had always provided support to each other for bilateral economic development.

Al Mubarak said that the Saudi government and companies eyed Pakistan as a high-priority economic, business, and investment opportunity. He maintained that the public and private sectors of the two countries could take their partnership to the next level.

Al Mubarak praised the Pakistani workers in Saudi Arabia for playing a major role in the economic development of his country. “Currently, 2 million Pakistanis are working in Saudi Arabia, including doctors, engineers and professors, who are working very hard on Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion, Finance Minister Muhammad Aurangzeb said that foreign investment was necessary for macroeconomic stability of Pakistan, stressing that the visit by Saudi investors to Pakistan was a part of this process.

The finance minister said that short-, medium- and long-term strategies were being worked on for the macroeconomic stability, which would further boost the country’s economy. He informed the participants that the government was working on structural economic reforms.

“At present, all the economic indicators are positive, which is the proof of the progress of the country’s economy,” he said. “Agriculture is growing by 5% and major crops, including wheat and rice, have had bumper yields this year.”

He pointed out that the current account surplus was pushing the macroeconomic indicators into positive, along with a record revenue collection by the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR). “Inflation has gone down to 17%, while the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) is rising,” he added.

Aurangzeb told the forum that the government was now moving towards privatisation and that the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) would also be privatised. He added that export-led growth, foreign direct investment (FDI) and access to capital were the priority of the government.

On the occasion, Commerce Minister Jam Kamal told the forum that presently, the government was focused on the business to business (B2B) relations, adding that the visit of Saudi investors to Pakistan was very important because the private sectors of both the countries had special importance in it.

Kamal said that the role of the business community in the economic relations between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia was very important at this time, and more focus was on the negotiations and implementation of economic vision through the private sector.

Petroleum Minister Musadik Malik also addressed the forum. He said that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were partners in each other’s development. “Today the investors and businessmen of Saudi Arabia have a very important role in the economy of Pakistan.”

Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) National Coordinator Lt-Gen Sarfraz Ahmad, on the occasion, highlighted the potential of Pakistan in different sectors. He added that the SIFC had adopted the whole-of-the-government approach to optimise multi-sector cooperation.

A 50-member high-level Saudi trade delegation led by the Al Mubarak arrived in Pakistan on Sunday. The delegation comprised 30 companies, representing different sectors, including information technology, telecoms, energy, aviation, construction, mining, agriculture and human resource.



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