PESHAWAR: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday said his government was focused on incentivising investment and making the country an attractive destination for investors.

Addressing a ceremony held for the commercial launch of the Rashakai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Nowshera district, Mr Khan said that in the recent past, Pakistan had unfortunately stopped being an investor-friendly country. Due to rising costs, many industries from China were leaving for other countries with low labour cost like Vietnam and Bangladesh.

The PM said his government was trying to give those industries incentives so they could invest in Pakistan.

Launches Rashakai Special Economic Zone in Nowshera

He said that Pakistan could be turned into an attractive place for investors but the country was unable to make matters easy for investors.

He said that the Board of Investment and Prime Minister Office were working to incentivise investment in the country to attract international and local investment.

The PM said that Pakistan was at the brink of default two and a half years ago as it had no money to repay its liabilities. “Pakistan was going to be bankrupt if China, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had not helped,” Mr Khan said.

However, he said, the country had come out of the dire straits. “Those two and a half years were the toughest of my life,” he said, adding that as soon as the country was out of difficult economic situation, Covid-19 struck it.

Now, he said, large scale manufacturing was growing rapidly, which was the biggest indicator of wealth creation in a country, and agriculture had also witnessed a record growth.

The premier said his government ensured quick payment of full price of crops to farmers, which they reinvested in their farms, leading to bumper crops of rice, sugarcane and maize.

He said that good days were on the horizon and tough time was over.

PM Khan cautioned that the rebounding economy was likely to put pressure on current account, which was surplus for the past eight to 10 months. He said that Pakistan needed to save itself from this situation.

Mr Khan said the government was focused on sustainable economic growth so that the country did not have to end up at the doorsteps of the International Monetary Fund to obtain loan.

He said that industrial estates like Rashakai would increase exports and till the growth of exports the government needed to further incentivise remittances from overseas Pakistanis. “Overseas Pakistanis have thus far sent record remittances home which is to large extent responsible for stability of rupee,” the PM said.

He said that after power and connectivity, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor had entered industrialisation phase. He said that industrialisation would save of the country from the debt trap.

He said that the launch of Rashakai SEZ was a very auspicious day for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

He said that Pakistan needed to follow Chinese model of industrialisation and not the Western model. Pakistan could learn much from Chinese industrialisation, which had happened over the past 40 years, he added.

The PM directed KP Chief Minister Mahmood Khan to not sell plots in Rashakai SEZ and instead give the plots to industrialists at cheaper lease. Selling plots pushed their prices so high that it stopped being profitable for industrialists, he added.

“Speculative selling of land is a big hurdle in the way of industrialisation,” the prime minister said.

He said that exported-oriented industries should be preferred in Rashakai SEZ and the investors should be facilitated through one window operation.

Speaking on the occasion, the chief minister said that Rashakai SEZ would be a game changer project for KP as it would boost economic and industrial activities in the province.

He said that Rashakai SEZ was a dream which was being turned into a reality under the leadership of Prime Minister Khan.

He said that the SEZ would create 200,000 employment opportunities and attract $2 billion investment.

Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong in his address said that the Rashakai SEZ would help promote business activities between Pakistan and China and, adds APP.

Appreciating the economic and investment policies of Pakistani government, he said more Chinese investment would come to the country. He said confidence of foreign investors had been restored due to Pakistan government’s investment-friendly policies that would bolster business and industrialisation and attract foreign investment.

Spread over about 1,000 acres of land, Rashakai SEZ is located along M-1 Motorway in Nowshera district.

The SEZ would be developed under a joint venture between a Chinese company and the KP government and would be completed in three phases.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2021

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