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Shahbaz vows to provide ‘enabling environment’ to foreign investors

Updated May 23, 2017

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Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and participants in the international seminar on business opportunities stand in honour of the national anthem. — White Star
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and participants in the international seminar on business opportunities stand in honour of the national anthem. — White Star

LAHORE: The second two-day international seminar on business opportunities began here on Monday under the theme ‘Punjab Means Business’ after Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif inaugurated it, pledging that his government would fully facilitate the foreign business community to invest in various sectors in an enabling environment.

“I guarantee you that you will get maximum support. You will never be harassed and you will work in an enabling and conducive environment,” the chief minister said while addressing the conference’s participants.

A number of delegates representing various business companies and joint ventures of China, Turkey, Europe and North America attended the first day of the mega event.

While greeting the participants, the chief minister claimed that the first business and investment conference held in November 2015 was successful, as it attracted huge direct foreign investment in Punjab.


Two-day international seminar on business opportunities begins


“Mr Song Taiji, chief executive officer (CEO) of M/s Huaneng Shandong Ruyi (Pakistan) Energy Private Limited… is accomplishing the mega project of 1,320-megawatt Sahiwal coal-fired project. He expressed full confidence in the Punjab government in creating an enabling environment for foreign investors,” the CM said.

He said the $1.8 billion Sahiwal coal-based power plant, which is a project of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, had started generating and contributing 660MW to the national grid this month, adding that it would soon be able to add another 660MW within 22 months.

He said that after the Metro Bus project in Lahore, the PML-N-led Punjab government made similar bus projects in Rawalpindi, Islamabad and Multan functional in record time. Recently, a Turkish company agreed to build a 300MW solar power project in Bahawalpur on a lowest tariff.

Organised by the Punjab industry department and Punjab Board of Investment, the conference encompassed various sessions on business opportunities in the province. Lauding China for its special attention towards Pakistan’s development, the chief minister said Pakistan was the first recipient and beneficiary of China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative devised by President Xi Jinping.

“OBOR starts with the CPEC and Pakistan is its first beneficiary. Under CPEC, various projects have been completed and many are either near completion or under way on fast track,” he claimed.

“OBOR is not limited to Pakistan alone, as it is a message of globalisation for all countries by replacing confrontation with concentration, promoting healthy competition, harmony, prosperity and progress and connectivity through sea, rail and road routes.”

The CM said various CPEC projects were being executed on government-to-government basis that meant that the rules, regulations would of the respective country -- China and Pakistan -- would be enforced.

“We have set a precedent of transparency while implementing these projects. Though the law allows us to award such projects without initiating a bidding process, but we are doing this through a transparent process of tendering. This way, we have succeeded in reducing cost of the project. That is why they (China) are appreciating us, as they believe that the money being spent on CPEC projects by Chinese government will be safe,” he explained.

Shahbaz called for national unity on the country’s development and criticised those politicising CPEC.

“Time is running fast. There should be no politics, no grouping, no nepotism and no issue on the development of the country. If this precious time and opportunity is lost, neither the nation nor God will forgive us. Let’s pledge for the country’s progress and not for personal gains,” the CM concluded.

Earlier, Punjab Finance Minister Ayesha Ghaus Pasha opened the conference, inviting the business community to invest in Punjab that had a major share in the country’s 5.3 per cent growth rate.

She said: “The last business and investment conference held in Lahore in November 2015 resulted in signing of 35 memoranda of understanding between the Punjab government and various foreign firms regarding investment in various sectors. I hope that this event will be more encouraging than the previous one.”

She further said: “The World Bank in its 2017 report declared Pakistan among the top 10 reformers. And it is all due to our fast growing economy that ranks at sixth fastest with a 5.3pc growth rate.”

World Bank Country Director Patchamuthu Illangovan said: “Punjab is a land of opportunity that is growing and reforming very fast for the last seven years. Thousands of jobs have been created here. It has a lot of value-added opportunities. The government needs to attract more investment -- both local and foreign -- to boost the economy.”

The two-day summit will showcase a variety of business and investment opportunities in various sectors in Punjab on different bases such as engineering, procurement and construction; build, operate and transfer; public-private partnership from consultancy services to execute the projects. The event will also facilitate investors in getting their firms registered in Pakistan and start their businesses leading to creation of jobs for skilled and unskilled workforce and building their capacity on new technologies.

Lahore Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Abdul Basit, Song Taiji, Marek Minkiewics, Attila D. Yerlikaya, Long Ding Bin, Babur Girgin and Shazukang also spoke on the occasion.

Published in Dawn, May 23rd, 2017