KARACHI: The federal government has won a one-billion-dollar investment guarantee from Saudi Arabia that will be used on installation of a desalination plant in Karachi to address water supply woes of the metropolis inviting the city industrialists and business fraternity to come up with a comprehensive plan for the massive industrial structure that is meant to be in place by the end of 2022.

The announcement came from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif at CM House, where he was invited on Friday by the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry to discuss “key issues of economy” and “suggest measures to meet the current challenges”, which have crippled the country’s financial system and brought the newly-placed coalition government at a crossroads.

During his address, the PM disclosed the fresh development and his ‘successful’ talks with Saudi Arabia which had assured the Pakistani government of one billion dollar investment.

“The prime minister said an investment of $1 billion by Saudi Arabia is ready, which can be used to address the problem of water supply by installing a desalination plant,” said a statement issued by PM House after the meeting.

Shehbaz asks city industrialists to seize business opportunity

Later, speaking to Dawn, the businessmen who met the PM shared details of the proposal and sounded confident that the plan was expected to take off soon as the investment guarantee envisaged it to complete within a next few months.

“As shared by the PM, the Saudis want it to be the biggest desalination plant in the region,” said Zubair Motiwala, president Businessmen Group — a platform representing Karachi industries and businesses.

“It’s an investment guarantee and it has to be used within 2022. The PM referred to the desire of Saudi investors, who want to set up the desalination plant and the PM said that Karachi would be the best place for that industrial venture. So the plan has been sketched and we expect that more details would be shared soon. The Karachi business community has assured the PM of its role and contribution in this regard.”

Chinese delegation

Referring to his Thursday’s meeting with Chinese delegation, the prime minister during the meeting also told the businessmen that the neighbouring country had expressed interest in the Karachi Circular Railway project. Earlier, the PM was received by the provincial ministers, including Manzoor Hussain Wassan, Sharjeel Inam Memon, Syed Nasir Hussain Shah, Jam Ikramullah Dharejo and Imtiaz Shaikh at CM House.

Federal Minister for Finance Miftah Ismail was also present in the event. KCCI president Mohammed Idrees, renowned businessmen Aqeel Karim Dhedhi, Haroon Farooqui and several other industrialists also attended the meeting with the PM.

The PM also wanted the Karachi businessmen to come forward with ideas to grow IT exports as the city had a huge potential both in terms of human resources and infrastructure to meet the $15 billion export target in the particular area.

“The PM believes that the country needs to boost its exports and IT is the easiest way out,” said Mr Motiwala. “So he wants to focus on this area and sees Karachi as the best place from where it can take off. So I would say things were positive at the meeting and I hope the plan shared by the PM ranging from desalination plant, Karachi Circular Railway to special IT zones, can bring about revolutionary changes if they are timely materialised.”

Published in Dawn, May 21st, 2022

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