Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday made a pitch to Turkish entrepreneurs to invest in a 10,000-megawatt solar power project for Pakistan, saying “my investor is my master”.
The premier sought the investment while addressing a meeting of the Pakistan-Turkiye Business Council in Istanbul, where he reached later for a two-day visit.
He told the investors that his government was resolved to cut down “very expensive” imports of oil and petroleum products, on which $27 billion was spent last year. “We simply can’t afford this.”
So, he explained, his government had invited foreign investment at a conference in Islamabad around a month and a half ago for a 10,000MW solar power project.
PM had given approval for the execution of the solar project in September as part of measures to reduce the import bill.
“It’s not just a paper, or a talk, or a feasibility,” he said about the project today. “I, along with my colleagues, […] am committed to this philosophy that we shall implement this scheme with in letter and spirit with our own resources, with investment from Turkiye, from China, from Saudia Arabia, from Qatar, from the UAE (United Arab Emirates), from the United States of America, from wherever.”
He assured the investors that the Pakistan government would create a conducive, enabling and friendly environment for them to invest in the project.
“Please try to understand that past is past, and we are walking into the future with a sense of great understanding, learn our lesson from the past.
We will move forward with this commitment that my investor is my master. And that’s what I believe — not from today but from ages — and that’s what we are going to implement in times to come,“ he convinced his audience.
“Please be ready with your coffers open,” he urged them, announcing that his government would be organising a special conference for “my Turkish brothers and sisters” where a presentation would be given on the plan for the project.
He also assured the investors that speedy payments to them would be ensured.
“It will be a complete departure from the past. Within 60 days, Turkish, and of course all international investors, will be paid without recourse to any third party,” he said, adding that the payments would be speedy and transparent.
The premier said believed it would be a “gateway for a new order in Pakistan” and allow the country to save billions of dollars by cutting down on fuel imports.
“Please trust me, trust my words. Come to Pakistan and, I will show you that, God willing, we will be great partners in this great investment portfolio, which will be a win-win situation,” he urged the investors. “You will get very nice profits and we will benefit, getting energy from the sun.”
PM Shehbaz assured them that the bidding process would be transparent and fair and bureaucratic delays.
He also asked the Pakistan ambassador in Istanbul to facilitate the Turkish investors in coming to Pakistan.
“Please come to Pakistan. Brother Naveed Qamar will receive you at the airport, roll out the red carpet […] and I will be breaking bread with you and have a complete discussion over there. And we will only open the doors of the rooms once we have come to a firm and concrete understanding of everything,” he told the investors.
Pact for enhancing trade volume
PM Shehbaz also urged the need to enhance trade between Pakistan and Turkiye.
He regretted that while had a long history of fraternal relations, this was not properly reflected in the volume of trade and investment between the two countries.
The premier said he was aware the entrepreneurs in Turkey were keen to invest in Pakistan and called for resolving problems impeding trade and investment between the two countries.
“Let’s learn from our experience from the past and move with speed so that we can compensate for the losses of the past … There is infinite potential and capacity on both sides. Let us synergise them. Let us put them together.”
He stressed the need to cut the red tape and simplify business regulations to promote investment, announcing that Pakistan and Turkey had signed a memorandum of understanding to increase the trade volume between the two countries to $5bn from the existing $1-1.5bn in the next three years.
He assured the Turkish businessmen that any problems they were or would be facing would be addressed and resolved.
Later, he said in a tweet that in addition to reviewing the whole spectrum of bilateral relations, “President Erdogan and I discussed ways and means to achieve the target of increasing trade volume to $5 billion in three years.
We vowed to ensure effective implementation of the Trade in Goods Agreement in this regard.“
On defence cooperation, the premier said at today’s meeting that Pakistan and Turkiye had already started the process of joint cooperation on this front and assured that the cooperation would be enhanced in times to come.
“We will have wonderful opportunities to defend our countries through our mutual cooperation,” he said.
The premier said Turkiye and Pakistan were two brotherly counties that believed in peace, in “peaceful means to exist and co-exist in this world which, unfortunately, believes might is right. And with their military progress and financial muscle, some have the habit of dictating terms.
“But we believe in peaceful means and peaceful instruments, and that has to be the world order.”
Earlier, the PM termed the launch of a Milgem Corvette ship as one of the “finest moments” in ties between Turkiye and Pakistan which will strengthen and enhance the two countries’ defence production and joint cooperation.
PM Shehbaz witnessed the inauguration of the third of four Milgem Corvette ships for the Pakistan Navy at the Istanbul Shipyard on Friday.
The Milgem project — based on a joint collaboration between Turkiye and Pakistan — was signed with ASFAT inc, a Turkish state-owned Defence contractor firm in 2018, according to which the Pakistan navy would acquire four Milgem-class ships from Turkey.
Speaking about the project today, PM Shehbaz said Milgem Corvette was a “great step forward” in terms of defence cooperation between the two countries.