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Thursday October 28, 2021

Jang Economic Session: Measures stressed to boost foreign investment

October 15, 2021

LAHORE: The government should focus on governance, economic issues and effective laws to discourage spread of rumours. Political instability and uncertainty should be removed. There should be security and protection for business and investment climate. It is imperative to discourage trend of spreading disinformation otherwise it may upset domestic and foreign investors. There should be steps to improve political situation. These views were expressed by the panellists at Jang Economic Session on ‘Country’s situation – rumour mills – increase in investors’ woes’. The discussants were Assistant Professor, Haley College of Commerce, Dr Fauzia Hadi, former Chairman Pakistan Tanners Association Agha Saidan, Jahanzeb Mirza and Tayyab Ijaz Qureshi. The session was moderated by Sikandar Lodhi.

Dr Fauzia Hadi said increasing uncertainty due to policy instability activates rumour mills so a regulatory authority must be established to check spread of disinformation. Almost 20 per cent of Pakistani population is connected with rapidly grown social media platforms which spread information in seconds without any check and balance, she said and suggested launching investor education as most of investors like to invest in stock exchanges to get quick money but did not know about mutual funds and many other programmes on which the government has given special rebates. She called for practical steps on Indian pattern to create awareness about investment through TV. She said the rulers should focus on meeting challenges faced by the economy.

Agha Saidan said according to global figures for 2018, foreign direct investment in Pakistan stood at $2. 2.4 billion, much less than in India, China, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia and also in the region as a whole. The reason for low income is slow establishment of special economic zone and the Pak-China Economic Corridor Project did not yield expected benefits. Out of 19 parameters for promotion of investment, 11 are related to the government for which no significant steps were taken to create a climate of confidence in local and foreign investment, he said and stressed provision of energy and gas to industries. Stabilising the value of rupee and discouraging bribery at all levels must to achieve better results, he said and added economic experts were part of the cabinet but there was need to change the mindset of bureaucracy.

Jahanzeb Mirza said the modern world was operating on information and data and competition exists on all fronts. The developing countries including Pakistan are suffering from political instability and conflict which stop foreign investment. He said instability at national level resulted negative impact on economic activities and stock markets. He suggested creation of a department like stock market to stop spreading rumours and disinformation.

Tayyab Ijaz Qureshi said protection of investors promotes investment. He said special incentives should be given to foreign and domestic investors.

The benefits of CPEC projects were not achieved due to lack of effective investment policy. He asked simplified taxation system to improve industrialisation and investment.

The world included Pakistan has been facing many supply chain crises due to Covid-19 but nature has provided opportunity to Pakistan to revamp system to attract global investors.