Saturday May 18, 2024

PM assures blanket support to Saudi investment

PM says govt committed to remove all bureaucratic hurdles and red tape in way of foreign investment

By News Desk
May 07, 2024
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is addressing a dinner gathering hosted in the honour of visiting delegation of Saudi Arabia in Islamabad on May 6, 2024. — PID
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is addressing a dinner gathering hosted in the honour of visiting delegation of Saudi Arabia in Islamabad on May 6, 2024. — PID

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif on Monday assured his government’s blanket support to the Saudi investment, enabling the investors and businessmen to accomplish their future projects in Pakistan expeditiously with joint ventures and replicate them within short time for the mutual benefits of the people of both countries.

Addressing a dinner gathering hosted for the visiting delegation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the prime minister said that time waited for none and stressed that they should overcome the challenges if they really wanted to make use of this opportunity as the Saudi leadership and their leading investors and business people wanted to help Pakistan.

Shehbaz Sharif reiterated that it was not the government’s job to do business as it has to offer policy frameworks, act as a catalyst and remove all the hurdles for speedy achievement of economic targets. He said that the government had resolved and was committed to removing all the bureaucratic hurdles and red tape in the way of foreign investment. Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir, federal ministers, Saudi ambassador in Pakistan, members of the delegation and senior officials were present during the event.

The prime minister said that the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) was a very robust and all-encompassing vehicle to attain all those projects in the interest of the people of Pakistan and the Saudi investors, leading to further strengthening of cooperation and partnership. The SIFC was a model acceptable to the Saudi delegation and they were fully satisfied with the existing opportunities, he observed. The prime minister said that from diverse projects, the Saudi investors could earn profits and if they provided them a mechanism free of troubles, bureaucratic hurdles and red tape, then the sky would be the limit. He expressed his satisfaction with the solid and tangible progress achieved during the delegation’s interaction with the Pakistani counterparts. He said that shortly, they would witness solid agreements worth billions of dollars in investment.

Recalling his visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during Ramzan, the prime minister termed his meeting with the Crown Prince and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman as ‘a wonderful interaction and he was extremely encouraged and deeply impressed with his forward-looking vision that has transformed KSA in many ways to come, whether it was in agriculture, education, IT, communication and infrastructure, youth empowerment and all-inclusive policies. Crown Prince’s dynamic and visionary leadership had placed KSA among the most progressive societies in the world, the fastest growing economy with the latest infrastructure, transport facilities, provision of jobs and progress in every sphere of life which was phenomenal, he added.

Shehbaz said that the Saudi delegation has interacted with the Pakistani counterparts which would further enhance the bonds of brotherhood and friendship and transform into new heights. “The KSA always stood with Pakistan through thick and thin. If we thank them, we can’t for their generosity of the last seven decades,” he added. He said that some 30 years back, Pakistan was able to offer training in different walks of life to their Saudi brothers, but today, KSA is far more experienced and has immense potential to train Pakistanis.

Saudi Assistant Minister for Investment Ibrahim Al Mubarak thanked the prime minister for warmly hosting them. He said that their visit was a testimony to their deep friendship and strategic partnership which was very important, adding under their leadership’s directives, they moved swiftly to explore partnership with Pakistan. He also lauded the response of the private sector that interacted with them, adding that the relationship between the two brotherly countries was very strong and that both countries could achieve shared economic objectives together. Ibrahim Al Mubarak said that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia help each other in development. Currently, two million Pakistanis are working in Saudi Arabia, including doctors, engineers and professors. He said that currently, most Pakistanis are working very hard on Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. He said that Saudi companies are always ready to invest in Pakistan. Pakistan has resources and potential and Saudi investors will help in Pakistan’s development.

Addressing, the Pakistan Saudi Arab Investment Forum, 2024, Finance Minister Senator Muhammad Aurangzeb said that foreign investment is necessary for ‘’Macro Economic Stability’’ in Pakistan and the visit of Saudi investors to Pakistan is a link in this chain.

He said that short, medium and long-term strategies are being worked on for macroeconomic stability, which will further develop the country’s economy. He said that the government is working on structural economic reforms and added at present all the economic indicators are going positively, which is proof of the progress of the country’s economy. Aurangzeb said that agriculture is growing by 5 percent and major crops including wheat and rice have had bumper crops this year. Along with this, the Federal Board of Revenue has increased the record federal revenue this year. He said that inflation has gone down and reached 17 percent which will further decrease.

He said that recently Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif attended the World Economic Forum and met Saudi investors on the sidelines. It was a successful visit to Saudi Arabia, which opened the way for economic cooperation between the two countries, he said. Aurangzeb said that in the last two weeks, three high-level delegations have been exchanged between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Today, the visit of a delegation of Saudi investors to Pakistan is also a part of paving the way for this economic cooperation. He said that the government is now moving towards privatisation and PIA will also be privatized. He said that export-led growth, foreign direct investment and excess capital are the priority of the government.

In a related development, the executives from Saudi Arabian mining company Manara Minerals are in Islamabad to continue talks about buying a stake in Pakistan’s Reko Diq gold and copper mine, a Pakistan government document showed on Monday.

The mine is considered one of the world’s largest underdeveloped copper-gold areas by global mining company Barrick Gold Corp ABX.TO. The Manara officials are part of a large delegation of Saudi investors and companies that arrived in Islamabad on Sunday, according to a document seen by Reuters listing officials in the delegation. The document listed Manara Minerals’ general manager as wanting to “continue the negotiations on the Reko Diq project”. Barrick has said it will invest up to $10 billion to develop the project. Manara’s acting CEO Robert Wilt told Reuters in an interview in January that the company was in talks to potentially buy a stake in the Reko Diq mine. Bloomberg has reported that Manara was initially interested in investing $1 billion to take a minority share in the copper mine.

Against the backdrop of a flurry of back-and-forth meetings, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is likely to pay a visit to Islamabad between May 10 to 15, the Geo News reported citing sources.

The visit of the top dignitary possesses vital importance to Pakistan eyeing big investment from Saudi Arabia in diverse fields which would be cemented via Prince Salman’s forthcoming visit this month. It would be the first visit of Saudi Prime Minister Salman to Pakistan in five years as he last time visited the country in February 2019 during the rule of former prime minister Imran Khan. It would also materialise the understanding between both countries in Makkah for attracting Saudi investments worth $5 billion in Pakistan in the coming days. However, the official announcement for the definite dates of MBS’ visit is due to be made.