Poland urges Pakistan to protect foreign investment

Envoy says investors suffering due to non-payment of dues, difficulties in arranging machinery parts


Shahbaz Rana May 17, 2024
Poland urges Pakistan to protect foreign investment

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ISLAMABAD:

Poland’s Ambassador Maciej Pisarkski on Thursday urged Pakistan to take immediate steps for making the life of foreign investors easier, who are badly suffering because of delay in payment of their dues and difficulties in keeping their machinery functioning.

The ambassador made the remarks at a time when Pakistani authorities were trying to bring foreign investment amid external sector and budgetary challenges that had created massive difficulties for the foreign investors working in Pakistan.

“Something has to be done to make the life of existing investors easier,” remarked Pisarkski while talking to a group of journalists at the embassy.

Foreign investors are grappling with the problem of delay in payments for services rendered by them and even encountering hurdles in the way of arranging spare parts for their machinery due to non-payment, said the envoy. PGNiG – a leading Polish company – is one of the two foreign companies that are still engaged in gas exploration in Pakistan despite numerous challenges. However, the company has suffered due to the absence of payment for gas explored and supplied to the government.

PGNiG wants to reinvest in Pakistan but these efforts are undermined by the lack of settlement of its previous dues, he added. Another Polish company drilling wells in Pakistan is also experiencing difficulties.

The central bank has been keeping a tight control over the outflow of dollars due to the thin foreign currency reserves despite the International Monetary Fund (IMF) umbrella for Pakistan. This has created serious issues for the foreign investors and lenders. Pakistan’s gross foreign exchange reserves remain low at $9.1 billion in spite of a $3 billion IMF injection and $6 billion in dollar purchases by the central bank from the open market.

The Polish envoy said that the embassy had repeatedly taken up the problems with the previous Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) government, the caretaker government and the new government. The embassy has also taken up the issues with the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC). Pakistan is a challenging market because of many reasons, said the ambassador while responding to a question about the prospects of new foreign investment.

UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office Chief Economist Adnan Khan said last week that foreign investors were looking towards Pakistani investors, which were sitting on the fence. The SIFC has not yet been able to bring any major foreign investment, although it has helped in addressing some procedural irritants.

Pakistan’s image abroad is not what it should be as this country also offers many opportunities, said the ambassador. However, despite the challenges being faced by the Polish companies in Pakistan, the embassy is arranging a visit of nine Polish firms working in the areas of construction, manufacturing, power, mining, coal production and wastewater.

Pisarkski said that bilateral trade between the two countries was less than a billion dollars but it was gradually inching up. Poland had a $666 million trade deficit last year, which it wishes to bridge through more exports to Pakistan. “We want Polish companies to stay in Pakistan and expand their business, unlike many other foreign companies that are leaving,” said the ambassador. “Pakistan should take care of the companies that have not pulled out.”

He stressed that the Polish embassy was committed to developing business and economic ties between Poland and Pakistan. This year, the embassy is organising a business mission through the GreenEvo programme, which is led by the Polish Ministry of Climate and Environment.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 17th, 2024.

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