ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has urged the foreign companies to take advantage of the incentives being offered by the government for investment and make investment in Pakistan whose strategic location is gateway to the energy-rich Central Asian states.
Addressing a gathering of 38 chief executive officers (CEOs) of companies from France, Italy, Canada, the UK, the US and other countries here Thursday, the Prime Minister said that Pakistan located on Asias premier trade, energy and transport corridor is also the gateway to the energy rich Central Asian states as well as Gulf States and far Eastern economies.
The Prime Minister said that under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) an investment portfolio of over $55 billion is being implemented. Of the total, $35 billion investment is being made in the energy sector and apart from energy, road and rail infrastructure, industrial parks and economic zones as well as deep seaport at Gawadar give CPEC the potential of changing the destiny of people in the region and beyond.
The CPEC, he said, is a key regional initiative for connectivity and shared prosperity of nations and Pakistan is uniquely positioned to become a hub to connect a population of over 3 billion, he added.
The corridor will substantially shorten transportation distances between Africa and the Middle East to Central and South Asian regions, he said adding that the CPEC would connect the port of Gwadar to Kashghar and will not only connect Pakistan to China but will also provide connectivity to Central Asia.
He said Pakistan with 80 million middle class people is blessed with rich human and natural resources and offers attractive investment policies to global player. He said the government is well aware of international investors need of stable markets backed by clear and consistent policies. We are committed to maintaining an enabling policy framework to attract foreign direct investment, he added.
He elaborated in detail the policy reforms pursued by the government during the last three years to ensure economic revival and stated that reforms have yielded positive results with a decline in fiscal deficit to 4.2 percent from over 8 percent, inflation to 3 percent and interest rate at the lowest level.
Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserves, he said, have soared for all-time high and tax to GDP ratio from 9.8 percent to over 12.4 percent while investment to GDP ratio from 14.9 to 15.2 percent. Nawaz Sharif said that Pakistan with a 3 percent GDP growth before 2013 is now projected to grow by 5 percent of the GDP in the current fiscal year. As a result, he said international rating agencies are improving Pakistan’s economic stability ratings while multilateral World Bank projected a GDP growth of 5.2 percent for the current fiscal year.
The Prime Minister said that S&P rating agency also expects that Pakistans debt to fall below 60 percent of GDP by 2018.
The Prime Minister further added that the consumer market in Pakistan is growing at a very fast pace with growing demand of automobiles, housing and electronics, which provides considerable returns to the corporate sector.
Services industry, particularly its sectors such as telecommunication, hospitality and online-retails, is fast growing with new attractive areas for investment, he said adding that Pakistan is emerging as an expanding market for the US and European products.
The Prime Minister said that with a fast growing middle class, increasing urbanisation, growing popularity of international food products, and a rising number of international food chains, Pakistan is poised to become a major destination for international businesses.
Our government has devised a comprehensive plan to create an investment-friendly environment and has liberalised investment policies to welcome foreign investments. We offer incentives to attract new capital inflows, including tax exemptions, tariff reductions, infrastructure, and investor facilitation services, he said, adding that the governments Investment Policy (2013) focuses on reducing the cost of doing business as well.
The policy was designed to improve ease of doing business with creation of industrial clusters and special economic zones to attract foreign direct investment. All this is protected by legislations, he added.
The Prime Minister said that Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) index PSE100 crossed 49,000 in January 2017, adding that the recent sale of 40 percent strategic shares to a Chinese consortium is the first such sale in a bourse in regional markets. The State Bank of Pakistan and the Securities and Exchange Commission continue to improve regulatory environment and oversight of financial and capital markets.
Nawaz Sharif said the governments Vision 2025 maps Pakistan to join the top 25 economies in the world leading to upper middle income country status by 2025.