LAHORE: Board of Investment (BoI) Chairman Naeem Y Zamindar Monday said that efforts were well on the way to make Pakistan a key destination for foreign and local investment.
Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) Senior Vice President Khawaja Khawar Rashid, Vice President Zeshan Khalil and Executive Committee Members here at Lahore Chamber, he said that foreign direct investment was increasing gradually and a target of $3.7 billion had been set for the current year.
Zamindar said that Pakistan had lucrative opportunities for both foreign and local investors in various sectors of economy including textile, energy, agriculture, health, education and others. Special attention was being given to Special Economic Zones (SEZs) under the game changer project of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), as volume of Chinese economy was expected to be $ 30 trillion within the next 25 years and Pakistan could grab huge benefits as economies of both countries were going to be merged under CPEC, he maintained. He said that cost of doing business in Pakistan must be reduced as the business sector was the driver of economy.
The BoI chairman said, “We want to brand Pakistan as entrepreneur future country by introducing innovations and modern industrial concepts on SEZs and Priories Economic Zones (PEZs).”
While, Lahore Chamber’s SVP Khawaja Khawar Rashid said that business community had serious concerns about declining trend in FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) despite the fact that CPEC had brought positive change in the current scenario of national economy.
There were 48 countries which had signed Bilateral Investment Agreements with Pakistan but their share in total investments in Pakistan was negligible. He suggested the BOI would target these countries for marketing the investment potential of Pakistan.
In fiscal year 2014, the size of total foreign direct investment in Pakistan was around $4.44 billion which contracted to $2.48 billion in fiscal year 2017 registering 44 per cent decline, he said and added that there was same trend witnessed in July-November2017 figures of FDI which registered 43.6 per cent regression.
He said that Special Economic Zone Act was promulgated in September 2012. Among the fiscal benefits to foreign investors, one time exemption from custom duties and taxes for all capital goods was expected to turn around the economic activities but it did not happen that way. Similarly, under Investment Policy 2013, there was equal treatment to local and foreign investment and the foreign equity upto 100 per cent was allowed but these steps did not produce healthy results. The investment to GDP ratio of Pakistan was around 16 per cent whereas for a developing country, it should be around 30 per cent, he maintained.
LCCI Vice President Zeshan Khalil said the Bank of China had started its operation in Pakistan, adding that BoI could make use of bond market by way of issuing special bonds to draw funds from Chinese investors. He said that Pakistan was still falling behind India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in Baseline Profitability Index (BPI) report which indicated that Pakistan had to take number of steps to improve its rank among the Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) friendly countries.
Zeshan Khalil said, there were almost same countries which were investing in Pakistan since long which include the USA, China, Luxembourg, the UAE and the UK, therefore, new investors from other countries should be encouraged to consider Pakistan for investments. He said, there were lot of overseas Pakistani having tremendous funds to invest somewhere, were looking for investment in their home country and BOI must take necessary steps to channelize these resources to Pakistan.