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Stabilized Pak economy attracts handsome volume of FDI, including CPEC: Stuart Dunlop

Stabilized Pak economy attracts handsome volume of FDI, including CPEC: Stuart Dunlop

ISLAMABAD: Regional Director MENASA Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Stuart Dunlop has said that Pakistan must also see the big picture and consider the formation of a regional economic union, similar to the European Union. It can create a Pak-Indo-China Trade Union to broaden its economic base.

China is investing more than $55 billion in Pakistan to develop infrastructure and large-scale trading. We need to launch large-scale training programs to enrich the competencies of the Pakistani workforce, to successfully operate the numerous ventures being created through CPEC.

In an exclusive interview with Customs Today, here he said that Pakistan should aim to optimize the productivity of the extensive roads and rail-network, ports, airports, energy and data-connectivity infrastructures being built rapidly.

For this purpose, the need for accountants and financial analysts is simultaneously going to increase. ACCA aims to take every possible step to produce qualified accountants and professionals who can ensure transparency and financial growth in CPEC ventures. We can launch numerous training programmers in the field of accounting and finance, for creating skilled human resources in the country.

“I believe rapid development requires a highly competent and productive work-force with a ‘high-performance culture’ and good work ethics, at all levels. Pakistan’s economy can be transformed by investing heavily in its human resources and skill-development, to nurture a prolific, secured and swift commercial and regulatory environment” he added.

Regardless of the nature of business, every organization needs financial managers and accounting professionals. With the stabilizing economic situation in Pakistan, the country is attracting a good volume of foreign direct investments (FDI), including the largest trans-national mega-project – the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

He added that with an investment of well over $55 billion promised by China for CPEC, Pakistan faces a major challenge to create an efficient and transparent environment for utilizing and absorbing such a large volume of investments. That is where the profession of Accountancy will benefit the country’s economy. This revolutionary project promises the emergence of numerous large scale ventures, requiring complex financial management. Hence, accountants will continue to get ample job opportunities in the local market.

“For Pakistan to be in a position where it can access new and exciting forms of investments, it is really very positive. What we’ve seen over the last 50 years, is the developed world having a monopoly on the knowledge economy, and the developing world being stuck in the labour-intensive economies” Stuart Dunlop observed.

He said that there was no reason why this should continue in future. If you look at markets like China, Pakistan and others in the region, the goal should be to move from primary, manufacturing and labor-intensive industrial sectors, towards a more knowledge-based economy. You clearly need resources and investments to do that. If China’s ambition is managed correctly within Pakistan, it can bring great opportunities.

“I am based in the middle-east where they have faced significant challenges over the last couple of years, driven largely by the low Oil-prices, while Pakistan has shown a relatively strong economic performance. Although, the political uncertainty has had negative effects on Pakistan, there is still room for economic optimism. In these circumstances, the major CPEC investments, worth over US$ 55 Billion, need to be managed very carefully” he maintained.

Globally speaking, he added that in Pakistan too, we have discussed such issues with the planning ministry and other authorities, about their plans, and how we can help them in policy-formulation. The first thing that comes to mind, when we discuss these corridors, is the road-infrastructure and energy-sufficiency, but Pakistan must also think of bringing maximum business opportunities for the common people, and generating higher tax-revenues, by doing extensive advocacy on an international level. ACCA can add value to such projects, by providing thought-leadership.

“More than 500 finance professionals from across Pakistan will be giving their insights and deliberating on how we can maximize the benefits of CPEC. Through a series of workshops and meetings, the finance professionals and business community can give specific recommendations for each industrial sector” he said.

Well, according to the survey, after a number of challenging years, the global economic outlook remains positive, despite a slight drop in confidence, compared to the last couple of years. Two main factors are likely to support economic growth in Pakistan over the next few years. The first is increased Chinese investment in infrastructure projects as part of the CPEC.

All the projects added together are expected to be worth over US$ 62 billion, which is the equivalent of 17% of Pakistan’s 2015 GDP. Low interest rates, which have been slashed over the past few years in response to a sharp fall in inflation, will also boost growth.

Confidence has fallen in both OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) and non-OECD economies. The confidence is higher in non-OECD economies than in OECD economies, for only the second time since 2011.