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SIFC meeting briefed on PM’s UAE visit, $10b investment offer

PM highlights complaints about lack of professionalism in departments ; Says govt seeking help from global experts for FBR overhaul

By News Desk

May 25, 2024 08:46 AM


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Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday chaired the meeting of the Special Investment Facilitation Council’s (SIFC) Apex Committee at the PM House in Islamabad, which was briefed on UAE’s $10 billion investment offer, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

The Apex Committee meeting was informed about the prime minister’s visit to the UAE. The chief ministers of all four provinces, federal ministers and military leadership attended the SIFC Apex Committee meeting.

Before the meeting, Prime Minister Shehbaz and Chief of the Army Staff General Asim Munir held a one-on-one meeting at the PM House and discussed a range of issues including security.  The prime minister and the army chief also deliberated upon the SIFC efficacy and investment-related issues, sources said. PM Shehbaz Sharif welcomed General Asim Munir upon his arrival at the PM House.

The committee mulled over various initiatives and projects under the SIFC. It reviewed progress on various projects and policy initiatives under SIFC and outlined plans to meet the milestones set in the future.

The committee expressed satisfaction over the overall progress made so far and appreciated the role played by the federal ministries, provincial governments and concerned departments.

It appreciated the facilities provided by the platform of SIFC to improve the economic conditions in the country and on ongoing economic cooperation with friendly states. The PM welcomed the recent increase in trade and investment under the government-to-business framework

The committee, while reviewing the progress on the privatization of state institutions, expressed satisfaction with the ongoing process and urged for timely completion of the privatization in collaboration with the relevant stakeholders.

The committee also reiterated its commitment to improve the investment ecosystem The Army Chief assured the firm commitment to coordinate government initiatives step by step for prosperity. 

 

PM Shehbaz said the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC) was playing a critical role in the country’s progress and prosperity and thanked the provincial governments for expressing their confidence in SIFC.

He said, “We should work tirelessly to build a Pakistan as perceived by their founding fathers.”

The PM admitted the government was facing a scarcity of professionals in the departments. He told the meeting that Saudi Arab categorically demanded professional output before investment assurances. He said Saudi Arabia has offered to provide professionals to Pakistan if required. PM Shehbaz said during a meeting with UAE prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, he categorically told them that Pakistan does not need aid, they want investment. He said when the UAE Prince asked how much investment Pakistan needed, PM Shehbaz demanded $10 billion which UAE ruler agreed. PM Shehbaz said UAE top official have done now it was the duty of Pakistan to give the plan. He said there was no place for lethargic and incompetent people. He said the government was seeking help from international experts for the overhauling of FBR.

The government formed the SIFC in June 2023 to bring together provincial and federal government representatives, as well as military officials, in a decision-making forum. Its goals include seeking solutions for economic revival and increasing FDI inflows.

The prime minister urged the provincial governments to further support the SIFC and move ahead in unison like a family to compensate for the losses of the past and overcome issues of poverty and hunger in the country. He said that the federal government did not get enough for initiating development projects after distribution of resources among the provinces, therefore under such conditions all the governments should move together with unity. Updating the members of SIFC about his recent visit to the United Arab Emirates, he said the UAE leadership had announced 10 billion dollars investment in Pakistan and expressed their complete confidence in SIFC. The leadership of brotherly countries and others as well were aware of the functioning of SIFC, he observed. When SIFC was formed through legal procedures, certain concerns were expressed by a quarter but with the passage of time, its significance, efficiency and achievements had shut all kinds of criticism and everybody now fully supported its initiatives, he added.

The prime minister also cited his meeting with a German delegation that was also aware of the functioning of the SIFC. The prime minister stressed that they should resolve today to achieve their targets as sky was the limit and would work day and night to transform Pakistan into something upon which the Pakistanis could feel pride, adding it was possible with the untiring efforts and by shedding sweat and blood. The prime minister also underlined the need of capacity building and enhancing professionalism of experts in different fields.

He said that he had already instructed the ministries clearly to hire consultants and experts and would soon seek their feedback. The prime minister said that the digitization process of the Federal Bureau of Revenue had already commenced. He urged all the stakeholders to redouble their efforts and promote the local talent and industry, adding that 60 per cent population of the country comprised youth bulge, who should be trained in IT field while the natural resources worth billions of rupees lying untapped be fully utilized. The prime minister also credited SIFC for paving way for the Reko Diq project in Balochistan province.

Later, Information Minister Attaullah Tarar on Saturday said that a “message of unity” was sent as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur attended an overall “productive” meeting of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC).

Addressing the media after today’s SIFC meeting in Islamabad, which was attended by CM Gandapur as well, the information minister said: “I want to say that all four chief ministers expressed complete trust regarding the SIFC, assured complete cooperation and also iterated the belief that the SIFC is a serious and effective forum and a lifeline to stabilise the economy, to develop the economy and to solve the country’s issues.”

 He reiterated that CM Gandapur on behalf of his province also “fully assured that they will cooperate”. Tarar said he was seated CM Gandapur in the meeting and had “small talks in a very cordial environment and good mood in which he talked about his province, we had many discussions on the province’s issues and we had some talks on a lighter note as well which I think is positive since we are political people and talks should always remain ongoing in politics”. “He accepted that ‘we have our issues, there are constraints as well and oftentimes we have to talk because of them but we are not out of the SIFC. We express trust in the SIFC and accept it’. “He talked about [the issues of] his province, definitely did and indeed he should as well. Along with that, he accepted the importance of the SIFC. I think today’s meeting was held in a very cordial atmosphere with great positivity and the frank discussion that was held about the economy, increasing investment, public-private partnerships … I think the good thing is that a message of unity was sent after today’s SIFC meeting that the Centre and the provinces are on one page.” Tarar said the meeting’s participants agreed that investment, whether in the Centre or the provinces, would be promoted.

 “I thank all chief ministers that they not only participated but gave very valuable input. This forum will move forward because of their input and coordination.” Tarar said the meeting also discussed the United Arab Emirates’ recent pledge of $10 billion worth of investment in Pakistan’s economy, adding that the prime minister announced the formation of six specific regional desks in the SIFC to cater to investment from China, the United States, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the European Union.

He said the chief ministers supported the move. “I think this was a very historic meeting whose dividends you will see in the coming days.”

Tarar said economic indicators were improving and amounts were being set aside by foreign countries for investment in Pakistan. “Today was a very positive meeting. I congratulate all provincial governments for it. It was decided that there will be more frequent meetings of the executive committee in which many suggestions will be discussed which will then be brought to the apex [committee] and many decisions will be made in the executive committee.” Meanwhile, CM Gandapur too acknowledged that “it was a very good meeting”, saying that he had previously iterated the provincial government’s pleasure at KP’s resources being used for the country. He said the resources of the province should continue to benefit both its residents and the larger country.

However, he added that the KP government would “never compromise” on its share of resources, adding that the issue was raised in the SIFC meeting and “the commitment has been given that the province’s resources, rights and share of the people will be protected and we too assured that our resources had always benefited the people and will continue to do so.”

 


News Desk


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