WEB DESK: Finance Minister Ishaq Dar may sometime be overconfident or indulge in self-praise but always accords high priority to the interests of the country.
In his latest visit to France, he did not go for shopping or sight-seeing but preferred to woo French investors with a view to accelerating growth in the country.
Talking to the media in Paris on 16th September, 2016, he requested the government of France to lift travel advisory in order to facilitate French investors interested in exploring business possibilities in Pakistan. It was also revealed that French Foreign Minister was invited to Pakistan and the invitation was accepted in principle.
Improved economic situation in Pakistan has generated investors’ interest and several French companies have shown keen interest to build new partnerships in Pakistan to strengthen business relations in various sectors of the economy. A business delegation from France would be visiting Pakistan in the first half of next year to explore options. Senior vice president, corporate affairs, at Total informed the Finance Minister that infrastructure development, oil and gas, food processing, mining and railways were identified as prospective areas of future co-operation.
The Finance Minister shared Pakistan’s automobile policy with the French Foreign Minister and offered to help French companies to set up a special economic zone in Pakistan to cater for the local market and export to neighbouring countries in the region. Ishaq Dar also held meetings with senior executives of Veolia which specialises in solid waste management and Vetigraph which has an expertise in latest IT and software technologies for textile and fashion industry. He also visited the headquarters of French Federation of Energy Producers where he briefed the senior executives about ongoing energy projects in Pakistan and future scope of investment in the sector, especially in solar and wind sectors.
The hectic efforts of Ishaq Dar to solicit foreign investment in a number of areas from France could only be welcomed and appreciated. His request to the French Foreign Minister to lift travel advisory was particularly relevant as such advisories act as a huge deterrent to foreign investment because of the reluctance of foreign investors to visit these countries with a view to exploring the possibilities of investment.
Advisories on travel are generally issued for the countries where law and order situation is extremely poor and there is risk to one’s life and property. Of course, foreign investors would not like to invest in countries where such conditions exist even if the rate of return on investment is high.
We feel that Ishaq Dar has asked for lifting the travel advisory at the right time because security situation has improved a lot during the tenure of the present government due to the Zarb-e-Azb and a crackdown on criminals in Karachi. There is absolutely no doubt that French investors would only like to consider Pakistan as a destination of investment once the travel advisory is lifted and visiting the country would be a feasible and rewarding proposition.
The Finance Minister also seems to have met the captains of selected industries which could play a useful role in uplifting those particular industries in Pakistan which at present are either not fully developed or likely to monopolise the market. Sharing of Pakistan’s automobile policy with French investors could induce them to invest in the country and promote competition for the benefit of consumers.
Investment in waste management and energy projects is the need of the hour as those sectors are underdeveloped and in poor shape in the country. While we appreciate the energy of Ishaq Dar to canvass for investment for the right areas, it needs to be remembered that such efforts could only be useful if the domestic environment like the state of infrastructure and the quality of governance were also conducive.
In our view, a multi-pronged strategy is required to remove internal impediments and satisfy the investment requirements of the country.
Source: Business Recorder