Pakistan seeks investment, not loans


Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has asked friendly countries that Pakistan needs the injection of critical investment in different projects, instead of loans that add to its debt burden, to rejuvenate the faltering economy.

Addressing members of the cabinet at a meeting last week, the premier appreciated the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), observing that the forum was playing an effective role in enabling Pakistan to realise its growth potential, especially by facilitating foreign investment into the country.

He shared with the cabinet that he had told friendly countries that Pakistan required investment this time around, but not loans. The PM emphasised that youth potential needed to be optimally harnessed through providing world-class training in income-generating skills.

He also called for promoting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by inculcating a culture of entrepreneurship, incentivising self-employment and supporting start-ups.

Pakistan is currently looking towards the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait along with other nations to stimulate investment in mining, agriculture, industry and energy sectors.

The prime minister said that by electing the present government, the people of Pakistan had reposed trust in its leadership and had high hopes that the government would provide them relief as well as put the economy on a sustainable and long-term development path.

He called the new cabinet a balanced combination of youth and experience, which was well placed to cope with the multidimensional challenges and serve the nation.

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He recalled that the previous government led by him had also served people with great commitment and its biggest achievement was to protect Pakistan from the looming threat of default, which had been the real danger at the time he stepped into office.

Roadmap for economic revival


At the meeting, PM Shehbaz laid down the roadmap of his government for improving the quality of life of Pakistan’s people.

Taking stock of the problems afflicting the national economy, he shared his deep concern over the challenges, especially the rising circular debt in electricity and gas sectors as well as energy theft and losses amounting to trillions of rupees.

It was added that state-owned power generation companies (Gencos) with low performing plants were a huge liability for the government and vested interests were pilfering state resources at the cost of the nation.

The meeting chairman also voiced concern over the performance of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) and its rapidly accruing liabilities, which exceeded Rs800 billion.

The PM asserted that low revenue collection driven by massive corruption in entities like the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and provision of subsidies to the elite rather than the poor were the key issues that would get immediate attention of the government.

He stated that Pakistan was being adversely affected by climate change as the recent flooding caused by heavy rains in Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Azad Jammu and Kashmir was one of its serious outcomes, which not only caused loss of life and property but also required significant financial resources for immediate relief and rehabilitation efforts.

Deep surgery

PM Shehbaz stressed that a “deep surgery” and structural reforms were required to pull the country out of the economic crisis and bring pro-poor changes to the system.

“We must either perform or perish, as we are in a now or never situation,” he remarked, adding that he and his government were determined to eliminate the vested interests that were obstructing Pakistan’s development.

The premier emphasised that his government would never be deterred by the enormity of the challenges that lay ahead in Pakistan’s path towards progress and development, and all allied parties would play their role to steer the country out of the current troubles, which was a difficult, but certainly not an impossible, task.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 21st, 2024.

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