Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday urged German entrepreneurs to invest in Pakistan and participate in its privatisation process, assuring it will be transparent and strictly in accordance with the international best practices. “Pakistan is one of the most investor-friendly countries in the world. We allow 100% foreign ownership, with no limit on repatriation of profits, dividends or other funds in the currency of the country of origin,” the Prime Minister said while addressing an Investment Forum here.
He said Pakistan would like to expand FDI (foreign direct investment) in energy, infrastructure development, food, pharmaceutical, chemicals, engineering, agriculture and agro-based industry, mining, and oil and gas exploration. The Prime Minister said, “Energy sector is our highest priority, and our biggest concern. Unless we overcome the problem of power shortages swiftly and effectively, there can be no meaningful development in the country.”
He said Pakistan was focusing on improving the efficiency of existing power plants, addressing problems of power generation and distribution. “At the same time, we have embarked on a massive programme of power generation, from all available sources, including hydel, coal, solar and wind,” he added. Among hydel projects, Nawaz Sharif mentioned the two most important ones – the 4500 MW Diamer Bhasha Dam and 4320 MW Dasu Power Project.
Nawaz said he believed that entrepreneurship would lead to Pakistan’s economic prosperity. “Our government, therefore, accords high importance to facilitating private sector enterprises to expand business in Pakistan.” “Today we have competitive, thriving, and growing private markets in the banking and telecommunication sectors,” he added. The Prime Minister said his government had an ambitious privatisation programme, which aimed to shift the role of public sector to regulation from management.
“I invite you all to participate in the privatisation process, which will be transparent and strictly in accordance with international best practices,” he added. The Prime Minister said Germany had been a major investor in Pakistan. Large German companies like Merck, Hoechest, Bayer, BASF, Siemens, Linde and Metro had sizeable investment in Pakistan, he added. He said investment by small and medium entrepreneurs from Germany would not only increase Pakistan’s quantum of trade, but would also be beneficial to both countries. “We eagerly look forward to renewed German investment in Pakistan,” he added.
The Prime Minister said Board of Investment had apprised of huge investment opportunities that were available in Pakistan, with extremely attractive rates of return. “I am sure that you will explore some of these areas for investment,” he added.
Nawaz Sharif said, “I welcome you all to contribute towards tomorrow’s Pakistan. I wish to assure you that the government will extend full support to your initiatives.” “Transparency and merit are the hallmarks of my government. We will ensure that you face no barriers in establishing business in Pakistan,” he maintained. The Prime Minister said the present government had finalised the planning for installation of 7000 MW of coal, solar and wind power projects by year 2017.
“While in the initial few years, coal plants will run on imported coal, we are simultaneously working on commercial use of the world’s second largest coal reserves at Thar in the Sindh province,” he added. The Prime Minister said his government aimed at developing Thar as the energy capital of Pakistan, which could provide affordable and reliable energy for tens of decades to the country’s households, commerce and industry.
“We are also diversifying our fuel mix for energy generation by adding up new hydel and LNG based power in all provinces,” he said, adding the work on establishing Pakistan’s first LNG terminal at Port Qasim was in its final stage that would start functioning by March 2015, providing much-needed gas to the country’s power and industrial sector.
This, he said, would be followed by three more terminals at Karachi and Gawadar by December 2015. The government was also laying new gas pipelines including Karachi-Peshawar and Gawadar-Nawabshah corridors with a discharge capacity of two billion cubic feet of gas for powering Pakistan’s industry, commerce and households. He said the government’s energy planning framework was futuristic and yet time-bound and catered for the core concerns of affordability and reliability, which were the country’s crucial missing links so far. The Prime Minister said his government was committed to improving the management of distribution and transmission companies in power sector for which it was encouraging public-private partnership model by inviting local and foreign investors to an attractive market of 180 million consumers. “We would like to see the government to act only as a regulator in due course protecting the interests of all stakeholders by enabling the private sector to meet the growing demand of a prosperous society,” he added.