ISLAMABAD - Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar Friday said that an estimated foreign investment of US$60 to $70 billion was expected in the next three to five years under the government’s new initiative of Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC).
Besides, he said the government had also received pledges and promises of another similar amount of investment. “Now, we have to design and submit our projects as there is a huge appetite to invest in the country”, he said while talking to senior journalists and news anchors here.
Replying to a question, the prime minister said the government was considering various options to provide relief to the people.
Citing the example of the $700 billion worth of Reko Diq gold and copper reserves, the prime minister said the country had huge potential of natural resources that would change fate of the people of Pakistan.
“We took the initiative of SIFC to realise this potential and we are going towards the right direction so far as the scientific methods and financial models are concerned,” he remarked. He said the SIFC was the whole of the government project and there was no hidden in it.
“This is a transparent intervention that has already been initiated and has the overall potential of $5 to $6 trillion.” The prime minister highlighted that Pakistan had huge land that could be used for agriculture purpose and could serve half of the Asian population’s food requirements. He added that the country had also enough water to irrigate the barren land across the country.
Likewise, he said IT, tourism and defence production had also huge potential that would be tapped for socio-economic development of the country.
PM Kakar maintained that although the core responsibility of the caretaker government was to facilitate elections across the country, in the meantime it would also try to improve the taxation mechanism and address other economic challenges.
Replying to another query, the prime minister said economic migration was not a new phenomenon and people were leaving the country for a better future and they would also contribute to Pakistan’s economy in future. Therefore, he said, it should not be considered a brain drain.
Advising the media to propagate hope among the masses, he said there was no chance of a sudden collapse of the country’s social structure and all professionals, doctors, nurses, and the society overall were functioning at an absolutely normal pace.
He said the government minutely looked into the problem of inflated electricity bills and would come up with a solution within next 48 hours.
To a question, he clarified that the Pakistan army, navy and air force were not using a single free unit of electricity and their bills were paid from the allocated financial budget.
While employees of WAPDA were using free electricity units and their usage would be rationalized, especially of the higher grade officers some of them were getting huge quantity of free electricity, he added.
He said perception should not be that the government would take any strict measures causing difficulties for the people.
He pointed out that the power sector had been a very challenging issue since the 1990s and the governments of that time signed agreements with independent power producers to overcome loadshedding which proved costly for consumers.
Over the years, he said, the generation and transmission system of electricity was flawed and the government had to deal with serious issues of line losses, power theft, high circular debt, use of expensive imported fuel and capacity payments to electricity companies.
“These issues cannot be ignored by just closing eyes. We need to diagnose treatment for the disease,” he added. He made it clear that the government would fulfill its agreements with the international financial institutions.
‘Smuggling of sugar, petroleum products, urea’
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar has strictly instructed the Customs authorities and law enforcement agencies to curb smuggling of sugar, petroleum products, urea, agri produce and other goods from the country. He was chairing a high-level meeting in Islamabad on Friday regarding smuggling control in border areas.
The prime minister was briefed about measures taken to control smuggling of various goods in the country, especially along the border areas. The meeting was informed that ten additional check-posts of law enforcement agencies have been notified to check smuggling in Balochistan. On the occasion, the Prime Minister sought an intra-agency report of government officers involved in smuggling in Balochistan. He said the officers involved in smuggling should be given exemplary punishment in addition to effective disciplinary action against them.
The Prime Minister was also told that forty percent decrease in smuggling has been witnessed due to tireless efforts of the law enforcement agencies.
Anwaarul Haq Kakar said smuggling of petroleum products leads to reduction in revenue collection, along with burdening the foreign exchange reserves of the country. He said he will personally review the weekly meeting of different agencies’ performance in curbing the menace of smuggling.
The Prime Minister instructed to make markets along Pak-Iran border more operational for ensuring documentation of the trade. He said curbing smuggling from the country has become inevitable as it inflicts a loss of billions of rupees on the overall economy.
Meanwhile, in a tweet, the caretaker Prime Minister said smuggling is a major cause of country’s economic challenges.
The Prime Minister said several other issues including tax evasion and hike in dollar price are also associated with smuggling. Also, Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has stressed the need to enhance cooperation between Pakistan and the United Kingdom in trade and investment, climate change and education. He said this while talking to British High Commissioner Ms. Jane Marriott, who called on him in Islamabad on Friday. The Prime Minister emphasized that Pakistan and the UK have longstanding relations and said that his government would continue to further strengthen these bilateral ties. He conveyed his good wishes to King Charles III as well as to the UK leadership. The High Commissioner conveyed felicitations to the Prime Minister on behalf of the UK leadership and said that her country would continue to extend all possible support to Pakistan during this phase of democratic transition.
Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar has reaffirmed Pakistan’s strong commitment to further strengthen and deepen ties with Iran. He was talking to Iranian Ambassador Reza Amiri Moghaddam, who called on him in Islamabad on Friday.
The Prime Minister underscored the close fraternal relations between the two neighbouring countries.
He also stressed the need to focus on enhancing cooperation in the economic and security domains.
Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar highlighted that the recent inauguration of Mand-Pishin border marketplace would not only contribute to the economic uplift of the border areas but also serve as manifestation of the collective commitment to work for the betterment of the two peoples. He stressed the importance for both countries to leverage their unique geographical location to promote shared objectives of regional peace and prosperity through greater trade and enhanced regional connectivity.
On the occasion, the Iranian Ambassador said Tehran is keen to build on the recent positive trajectory of the bilateral relationship, especially in areas of economy, energy and security.
The European Union has expressed the commitment to continue supporting Pakistan and work to enhance cooperation in areas of mutual interest.
This resolve was expressed by EU Ambassador Riina Kionka, while talking to Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar in Islamabad on Friday.
The Prime Minister, on the occasion, expressed satisfaction over the positive trajectory of Pakistan-EU ties and lauded recent progress made in this regard. He emphasized the significant role of the GSP Plus scheme in boosting Pakistan’s exports to European markets. He stressed the need to continue the GSP Plus scheme which serves the interests of both Pakistan and the EU.
Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said his Government is committed to safeguarding and upholding the rights of all its citizens. He said the Government would provide constitutional continuity till the next general elections are held in the country. PM Kakar’s visit to Kenya from 4th September was cancelled due to evolving political situation in the country. Earlier Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch announced on Friday that Prime Minister Kakar would be undertaking three days visit to Kenya to attend UN climate conference.
However, official sources confirmed that this visit was cancelled due to preparations for general elections in the country. Next week is going to be extraordinarily important as many important political developments are expected to take place that is why PM Kakar decided to postpone his visit. However PM Kakar visit to UNGA new York is confirmed.