ISLAMABAD: Foreign investors are excited over Pakistan’s fast improving security situation, saying the two main business centres — Karachi and Lahore — are now on a par with other mega cities in the region.
In a survey — Annual Security Survey 2020 — released on Monday, the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) said the foreign investors have shown overall high level of satisfaction on the fast improving security environment in the country.
The survey was conducted by the OICCI that claims to be the largest chamber in terms of economic contribution and representing top 200 foreign investors in Pakistan. The survey, it said, was based on feedback on the security environment from July 2019 to June 2020.
The survey participants appreciated the performance of law enforcement agencies (LEAs) in the main business centres of Pakistan, Karachi and Lahore, raising the security satisfaction profile of the two cities to a level of other mega cities in the region.
OICCI survey finds Karachi, Lahore on a par with other mega cities of region
Commenting on the survey findings, OICCI President Haroon Rashid said: “The smooth and professional handling of the brazen attack on Pakistan Stock Exchange on June 29, and restoring order within a very short time, is a testimony of the OICCI members’ confidence in the ability of the LEAs to professionally combat any threat to life and property in the country.”
He said the foreign investors were not deterred by isolated incidents and continued to take a holistic view of the operating environment that OICCI members perceive as highly positive, showing continuous improvement.
The survey respondents included CEOs and senior management of member organisations, and was participated by 70pc of the OICCI’s 200 members, who belong to 35 countries and operate in 14 key sectors of the economy in Pakistan. Over two thirds of the members had their head offices in Karachi with operations all over country. The survey was conducted between May 15 and June 22.
The survey showed that the foreign investors were overall impressed with further improvement in the security environment over the past 12 months, especially in Karachi and Lahore, with noticeable improvement in other business centres as well.
About 60pc of the respondents have reported improved security environment for own and customer business, as well as for their respective suppliers and employees. “This improvement is over and above the already improved security environment last year, and the continuous improvement recorded in the OICCI members annual security surveys since 2015,” the OICCI
OICCI Vice President Irfan Siddiqi said it was highly encouraging that despite many disruptions during the past 12 months, due to the Azadi March in December 2019, border tension with India during the third quarter of 2019, and travel restrictions since the end of March this year due to Covid-19, the visit of foreign nationals visiting Pakistan for OICCI members business had showed a healthy increase. Over 40pc respondents reported more visitors this year than last year, with 26pc hosting more than 50 visitors and most respondents getting between 20 and 50 visitors.
The foreign business visitors were mainly from China, the US, the UAE, the UK, as well as other European and Asian countries. Due to the sustained improvement in the security environment, OICCI members reported that over 90pc of the board and management meetings of their Pakistan business operations, involving headquarter and regional management, were held within the country.
In terms of serious crimes, 87pc respondents indicated a decrease over last year in Karachi and Lahore. However, the survey respondents have expressed concern on the increasing trend of street crimes. All in all, 37pc respondents in Karachi and 27pc in Lahore reported concern over increasing street crimes. According to the results, Islamabad experienced the lowest increase in street crimes among the key business centres.
There was also a thumbs up for the law enforcement agencies as, by and large the foreign investors were satisfied with their performance, with over 90pc expressing satisfaction in their interactions with Karachi and Lahore Police, Pakistan Rangers, Sindh and Citizen-Police Liaison Committee and 84pc for Sindh Police.
OICCI security survey is very comprehensive and gives a detailed feedback of a large number of foreign investors operating in Pakistan on various aspects of doing business connected with security and its impact on their operation, which is regularly sought by diplomats and security professionals.
Published in Dawn, July 7th, 2020