• Army chief, provincial CMs and ministers briefed on scheme to harness ‘untapped potential in key sectors’ through indigenous development, foreign investment
• Pakistan, China sign accord for 1,200MW Chashma-5 nuclear power plant
• PM off to Paris this week for global financing summit

ISLAMABAD: Plagued by economic challenges amid an ‘inordinate’ delay in the revival of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, civilian and military leaders on Tuesday devised an ‘economic revival plan’ to capitalise on “untapped potential in key sectors” and attract foreign direct investments.

A statement issued by the PM Office said the meeting was chaired by PM She­h­baz Sharif and participants included chief ministers, federal and provincial ministers, and the army chief, among others.

The plan envisages making the most of “untapped potential in key sectors of defence production, agricultural/livestock, minerals/mining, IT, and energy, through indigenous development as well as investments from friendly countries”.

To fast-track the development of projects, the establishment of a Special Inve­s­t­ment Facilitation Council (SIFC) has been undertaken to act as a ‘single window’ interface for potential investors.

The setup will shorten cumbersome and lengthy business processes through a cooperative and collaborative ‘whole of the government approach’ with the representation of all stakeholders. It is aimed at creating horizontal-vertical synergy between federation and provinces, facilitating timely decision-making, avoiding duplication of effort, and ensuring swift implementation.

Export-oriented FDIs

PM Shehbaz recalled that his government inherited an economy which was on the brink of collapse. “With bold and difficult decisions, it is now being steered towards growth and development. There are, however, massive challenges ahead,” he added.

He said export-oriented FDIs held the key to economic revival and added that the government decided to adopt a “holistic approach which fosters partnerships within the federal and provincial governments for effective implementation and execution”.

The PM observed that the expected investments would create jobs and livelihoods for the youth and women. The focus should be on empowering young and females to realise their full potential, he added.

Chief of Army Staff Gen Asim Munir assured of the Pakistan Army’s all-out support to support the government’s efforts for economic revival.

Chashma-5

Earlier in the day, the premier witnessed the signing of an MoU between Pakistan and China for the 1,200 MW Chashma-5 (C-5) nuclear power project, worth $3.48 billion.

President of China National Nuclear Corporation Overseas Ltd (CNOS) signed the MoU with Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) Member Power Muhammad Saeedur Rehman.

Speaking on the occasion, PM Shehbaz said the project was a “great step forward towards economic cooperation” between the two countries.

He said in light of global inflation, the project cost would have been much higher than the cost determined in 2017-18 but the Chinese government not only abstained from raising the price but instead gave Islamabad a discount of around Rs30 billion.

Vowing to kick-start the project without delay, the prime minister said investment from China in this project to the tune of $3.48 billion “sent a clear message that Pakistan was a place where Chinese companies and investors continued to show their trust and faith”.

During his speech, the premier also lamented an inordinate delay in the revival of the IMF programme for the 9th review.

“Pakistan has met all conditions required by the IMF almost three months ago, but there has been an inordinate delay,” he said, adding that China had once again come to Pakistan’s rescue. Other than China, Pakistan also had “great friends such as Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar that had been and still supporting” Islamabad.

PM off to Paris

On the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron, PM Shehbaz will undertake an official visit to France to participate in the two-day ‘New Global Financing Pact Summit’, which would commence in Paris on Thursday.

“The summit affords an opportunity for the leaders to discuss the contours of a new global architecture capable of meeting the challenges of financing sustainable development, environment, energy transition and climate change agenda,” the Foreign Office said in a statement.

Pakistan will contribute to the debate at the summit as a “leading stakeholder in the global discourse, a leader in G-77 and China and one of the largest developing countries” most affected by climate change.

Iftkhar A. Khan also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, June 21st, 2023

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