The government is in the habit of making long terms plans for short term goals and short term plans for long term goals and every plan ends in fiasco after consuming billions of rupees taxpayers’ money. In its latest effort, the Board of Investment is going to launch an ambitious plan to attract $250 billion foreign direct investment for the development of infrastructure and allied industries in the country. Ironically, the plan will be unveiled in Portugal to attract investment from the European Union. It is not a rocket science to understand that all the money to arrange the event will be paid by the government of Pakistan. The government received $2.4 billion foreign direct investment in 2016-17 which is peanuts as compared to India which received $50 billion in one year. If you are in Pakistan, you have to coordinate with Pakistani investors and then go to the other side of the fence to convince them to put their money in this country. So far, Pakistanis have appeared as one of the largest groups which not only invested in UAE, but also in Europe and North America. If you cannot convince Pakistanis, you cannot convince anyone else.
Earlier, the government had planned to take exports to $50 billion a year from $25 billion in 2013. Instead, the exports fell to $20 billion in four years and even it could not maintain the volume of exports it achieved four years ago. The policymakers will have to prepare ground for foreign investment. So far, the government has failed to respond to Chinese businessmen’s offer of shifting their industries to Pakistan. It is difficult to understand when bureaucracy will rid itself of lethargic attitude and when will it take proactive approach to meet the requirement of the changing circumstances. It is necessary for the prime minister to personally take interest in the offer and give the Chinese businessmen space, utilities and tax concessions to shift their industries to Pakistan. Once high-tech industries begin to be established here, the European investors would definitely invest their money with Chinese and Pakistani counterparts. The early development of Special Economic Zones and export processing zones is need of the hour. Pakistan itself is a big consumer market and rising number of middle class has the purchasing power to stimulate the industrial growth. However, a balanced approach is the only way to please the foreign investors and remove the grievances of the local business community.