Investment plans: Prime Minister makes orthodox sales pitch

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday said the present government encourages investment not only as a tool of economic development, but also long-term friendly co-operation. Speaking at the inaugural session of International Investment Conference here, the prime minister said this conference will dwell upon excellent avenues for investment in Pakistan. “It will also apprise you of the roadmap my government has laid down for increasing economic opportunities in Pakistan through structural changes and institutional reorientation,” he added.

He said that Pakistan offers avenues for developing its vast reservoir of diverse agricultural, industrial, services, natural and mineral resource portfolios located in accessible contiguous areas, a prospect that promises to be no less than ideal. The Prime Minister said that Pakistan’s projected GDP growth ranges between 4 and 6 percent and is higher in comparison to the past where it consistently failed to cross the 3 percent barrier. “I expect that our economic policies will bring about capital formation that in turn will create employment opportunities and increase tax-to-GDP ratio currently counted as the lowest in the region,” he added. He said that his government succeeded in adding 1500 MW of operational capacity to the national grid, and has in pipeline numerous projects whose production will soon outstrip demand. According to him, “We plan privatizing power distribution network along with rationalization of tariff that will make investment in power sector very attractive”.

The Prime Minister further said that the gradual but a steady escalation in the Baseline Profitability Index (BPI) strongly signifies Pakistan as an attractive investment proposition. “We have created space for investment by carrying forward the process of privatization,” he added. He maintained that the government is very transparently disposing of a partial equity in large-scale public sector enterprises (PSEs), the latest being that of Oil and Gas Development Company. These also include Pakistan Petroleum Limited. “I take this opportunity to invite you to participate in this initiative and discover for yourselves the financial feasibility and productivity of investing in Pakistan,” he said.

He said that they have invited our private sector to set up an LNG import terminal with an aim to replacing costly furnace oil power generation and soon build an LNG Terminal at Gwadar Port, the third largest warm water port of Pakistan located in a mineral-rich Balochistan. He further said that Pakistan is widely known for offering an extremely liberal foreign investment regime in the region. It allows one hundred percent foreign equity and no limit on repatriation of profits, particularly in large-scale infrastructure and manufacturing sectors.

“Investment incentives in Pakistan are diverse and business-friendly. We offer prospects of co-production, joint ventures with local partners and joint marketing arrangements. The taxation regime is one of the lowest in the region and its collection is undertaken through very well oiled dedicated Large Taxpayers Units. Multiplicity of tax concessions is available along with provisions of tax exemptions to specific businesses. We also provide exclusive economic zones and infrastructure subsidies as well as research and development support,” he added.

He said the government is fully committed to improving the lot of Pakistanis through a massive capital infusion in economic body politic of Pakistan by investing in viable development initiatives. As a relief measure to subsidise meager incomes of a considerably large segment of Pakistanis, government is already spending around 80 billion rupees on various income-support and employment-generation schemes, he said.