Pakistan is going through its worst economic crisis these days. This economic crisis has arisen due to the severe shortage of foreign exchange reserves of the country and the condition of aid by international organizations with reforms. Because Pakistan’s economy is dependent on imports and Pakistan is facing a huge trade deficit.
Now, not only the international financial institutions, but also friendly countries are not ready to give aid to Pakistan without economic reforms and increasing the tax net. And now the Saudi finance minister has openly said this.
If Pakistan wants to get rid of the debts of international financial institutions and enable the country to earn dollars, local and foreign investment has to be promoted. But what is the reason that the best policies written on paper in Pakistan are failing miserably in practice? In such a situation, Naufal Shahrukh, associated with the Institute of Policy Studies, received an invitation to the keynote address of former Minister of State and former Investment Board Chairman Mohammad Azfar Ahsan on Pakistan’s investment environment. Mohammad Azfar Ahsan had served as the Chairman of Investment Board for about five and a half months at the invitation of former Prime Minister Imran Khan. And he was not carrying any kind of political burden on his shoulder. For this reason, his speech was to be considered as the talk of a technocrat and a patriot of Pakistan, so he also participated in the Majlis online.
Muhammad Azfar Ahsan started the conversation with the discontinuity of policies at the government level. Because he was the fourth chairman of the previous government when he was elected chairman of the board of investment. He says that apart from me, the government has appointed the fifth finance secretary and the sixth chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue in three years. All these positions are very crucial for the country’s economy and economy and the constant turnover in these positions in less than three years reveals the true reality.
Talking about the problems of local and foreign investment in the country, he termed running business and industry as Jihad. Azfar said that the real problem of investors is the attitude of the bureaucracy. FBR burdens the same, which is in the tax net. And those outside the net are having fun. Azfar also denied that no one is coming to invest in Pakistan. As BOI Chairman he has experience that local and foreign old and new sub-investors are interested in further investment. Bureaucracy keeps local and foreign investors running around the offices and instead of holding their hands and solving the problems, the problems are exacerbated. As a result, the investor becomes so confused that he prefers to invest elsewhere than Pakistan.
If attention is paid to six to seven countries and a few industries, the investment of several billion dollars per year can be made from each country. An ecosystem has to be created for this. But our country receives less than three billion dollars of foreign investment annually. At present, the entire government is worried about a few billion dollars from the IMF. Commenting on the functioning of the government, he said that Pakistan does not have an atmosphere of mutual cooperation. One ministry is not ready to cooperate with another ministry and one institution with another institution. All work is done on an ad hoc basis. And we try to get foreign aid or loan in place of investment.
A conspiracy theory has also been highlighted in Pakistan regarding privatization. Obstacles in the Privatization Commission and the system are major obstacles in privatizing the country’s sick industries and institutions. It is not right to drag the investor into the internal political issues of the country. Azfar says that Saudi Arabia is a case study. At present, the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia is the third largest fund in the world. He is investing money all over the world. Mohammed bin Salman has directed all his government institutions and private sector to invest in Pakistan. The Saudi investment ministry held 18 meetings in five-and-a-half months and is keen to establish Aramco’s refinery as well as make Pakistan its partner in agriculture and food security. Saudi Arabia wants to invest in ready-made projects in 8 sectors. But the government changed and the matter remained the same, no progress was made.
And now it has become a headache for Saudi Arabia that things are not finalized in Pakistan. Any investment file sent by the Pakistani ambassador does not go back to Saudi Arabia from Pakistan. And buried somewhere around the secretariat. Apart from China and India, other small countries bring ready-made projects to Saudi Arabia and get investment approval. Saudi Arabia wants to make Pakistan its food security partner. Saudi Arabia wants to establish a special agricultural zone, for which it has also identified land in Balochistan. But there is no progress on this either.
We should work with China to create special economic zones on government basis because China has created special economic zones in 22 countries in government partnership. And if China does this, it will be a game changer for Pakistan’s economy. China is a huge reality. Regarding investment, the China Desk of Investment is in the Board, while the CPEC Authority is established separately. Now the Chinese investors will continue to move from office to office. CPEC is an opportunity. In this special economic zones should be completed as soon as possible, otherwise we will lose a lot.
What is the solution to all these problems? Can new elections be the solution? Azfar Ahsan also disagrees, as 98 percent of the parliament will consist of the same people who are currently members. Azfar Ahsan says that Pakistan should study the model of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan and implement it in Pakistan. Competent and competent people in the Prime Minister’s Office in Pakistan should be given responsibility for investment matters so that they can create an investment environment in Pakistan through better follow-up.
Leave a Reply