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Umar vows to take businesses on board for CPEC projects


By Our Correspondent

Published: November 11, 2018

Says govt will engage private sector by setting up manufacturing units in various sectors. PHOTO: FILE

KARACHI: The government is soon going to engage the private sector to leverage China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects by putting up manufacturing facilities in various sectors, announced Finance Minister Asad Umar.

Many businesspersons in Pakistan have expressed reservations that they have been left out of the opportunities CPEC projects have to offer while assuming their counterparts from China are involved.

However, Umar, during his visit to the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) edifice on Saturday, said the government would be engaging them soon.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to China had been highly successful, he said, adding Pakistani businesses would also reap benefits of CPEC projects by putting up manufacturing facilities in various sectors.

The finance minister, while sharing salient features of the government’s economic recovery strategy, mentioned that the government was pursuing an investment-led export-oriented growth model and that all government actions in the short to medium term would be aligned to that strategy.

IMF bailout package yet to be finalised: Asad Umar

He acknowledged that the country was out of immediate balance of payments crisis and was working on a clear path for recovery and that the benefit of the revised economic strategy may be visible over the next six to nine months.

Of the $3 billion assistance in cash from Saudi Arabia, $1 billion is expected to reach Pakistan in the next two days. Pakistan is facing a foreign exchange reserves crisis as they currently stand at $7.67 billion – the lowest in the past four and a half years, he added.

While talking about rehabilitation of state owned enterprises (SOEs), he said the government would be opting for a holding company model.

Umar said the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) issue was serious. The money earned through corruption had also been sent out of Pakistan through Hawala and Hundi systems, which were directly used in terrorism and illegal activities, he added.

National security will not be compromised in any IMF deal: Asad Umar

Four thousand illegal properties belonging to Pakistanis have also been identified in Dubai.

The minister said solving problems of industries was very important and the government had been focusing on that and wanted to strengthen industries to help them produce more.

He assured OICCI members that their concerns over delayed tax refunds, higher circular debt and delayed remittances would be addressed during the ongoing fiscal year.

Meanwhile, OICCI President Irfan Wahab Khan said the overseas chamber had always been vocal as foreign direct investment (FDI) ambassadors of Pakistan and promoted positive potential of the country for investment. They believe in Pakistan and have been significant investors as a group and, in 2017 alone, have made capital investment of around $2.7 billion and $10.4 billion in the past six years.

Khan also offered the government foreign investors’ full support in promoting economic stability and FDI growth by providing technical assistance in the form of successful strategies, which have worked internationally.

In this regard, Khan pointed out that the trade and investment chamber was soon going to share comprehensive – OICCI Digital Pakistan – recommendations to lead the country into an era of digital and financial inclusion and good governance.

The OICCI president also offered assistance to the government in improving the perception and projecting a positive brand of Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 11th, 2018.

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