Delaying Doha plans

Published September 27, 2022

WHEN Doha announced its intention to spend $3bn in different commercial and investment sectors of Pakistan around a month ago to support this country’s teetering economy, no one expected the government here to immediately implement the actions needed to facilitate the Qatari plans. Yet, it was largely assumed that the work that was started before the prime minister’s Doha visit to remove impediments to the Qatari plan to develop a new RLNG terminal and buy two RLNG-powered generation plants would make rapid progress on fast-tracking the promised investments. However, a report in this paper suggests that bureaucratic red tape and vested interests are stalling any meaningful headway on those reforms. This is in spite of the urgency with which Pakistan needs foreign loans and non-debt-creating investments to tackle its balance-of-payments troubles. Though Qatar did not give any time frame for its investments, the gas-rich state is expected to spend much of the money on the LNG infrastructure project and the purchase of power plants during the current fiscal to support Islamabad’s efforts to double its foreign exchange reserves to $16bn under the IMF’s bailout programme.

Any other country dealing with a serious economic turmoil amid a balance-of-payments crisis and falling foreign currency reserves would have moved swiftly to push reforms forward and remove the barriers to such a large investment in a sector on which depends the nation’s energy security. The lack of progress on reforms and policy decisions approved by the federal cabinet shows that the gas sector bureaucracy is more concerned about its own interests than those of the country. It goes without saying that the delay in the implementation of reforms required to facilitate long-term foreign investment will not only jeopardise Qatari plans in the gas sector but in other areas as well. Saudi Arabia and the UAE may also rethink their recently announced decisions to invest $1bn each in Pakistan if we continue to drag our feet on important policy reforms meant to ease the way of foreign investors.

Published in Dawn, September 27th, 2022

Opinion

Editorial

A call for bloodshed
30 Nov, 2022

A call for bloodshed

The state has wasted precious time by not consolidating its success in pushing TTP out of its strongholds in the north.
Missing childhoods
30 Nov, 2022

Missing childhoods

THE fact is that despite some legal efforts to end the curse of child marriage taking place in Pakistan under the...
Unemployment concerns
30 Nov, 2022

Unemployment concerns

THE ILO finding that labour market recovery from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic in Pakistan, as in many other...
Back to politics
Updated 29 Nov, 2022

Back to politics

PDM and PTI must realise that neither will get what they want if they keep fighting bitterly at every turn.
Election delay
29 Nov, 2022

Election delay

OF recent, leaders from the ruling PML-N have been dropping hints about a possible delay in general elections after...
Sugar woes
29 Nov, 2022

Sugar woes

IT’S that time of year again when cane growers get anxious over the delay in the commencement of the new sugar...