Government targets $20 billion foreign investment next year

Federal Investment Minister Senator Waqar Ahmad Khan has said that the government has fixed 20 billion-dollar target for foreign investment in 2009 to bring the country out of the current economic crisis. Pakistan needed over 40 billion-dollar investment and the government was optimistic to achieve the 20 billion-dollar target fixed for 2009, he stated this while talking to reporters here on Saturday.
Pakistan, he said, was open for investment in any sector. But the priority sectors of the government were oil and gas, energy, food, agriculture, information technology and infrastructure, he added. Senator Waqar said that 100 percent repatriation of money had been ensured to the investors, while special commercial zones had also been set up for them.
“We have also announced a five-year tax holiday, besides 10-year tax exemption for investors who help us set up a commercial zone”, he said. He also disclosed that the government had finalised its plans to offer ownership of agricultural lands to investors for farming. “We are extremely enthusiastic in providing areas for farming with great incentives. Investors could own the land, cultivate it and export 100 percent of its crop”, he added.
President Asif Ali Zardari had a vision to give a corporate image to Pakistan and he himself would go abroad to gain the lost confidence of foreign investors. “We have a plan to constitute a special task force for protection of foreign investors,” he said, adding the task force would comprise officials from the ministries of Interior, Defence, Investment and Finance, which would protect investors’ interests.
The Minister said that the government was well aware of the security concerns of foreign investors and this was the reason for constitutions of special task force to protect investors and their investments. The task force would be an invisible mode of security, which would provide ultimate comfort and sense of security to investors, he said, adding that the task force would be in place later this month.
He said that the present government was not seeking any financial relief directly and this was not the thrust of President Zardari’s visits to different countries. “We are immediately looking at deferred oil payments from Saudi Arabia and the UAE to get some economic relief,” he added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2008