• SFIC to focus on leveraging key sectors, attract investment from friendly countries
• PM says body’s immediate task will be to boost FDI to $5bn
• Arrives in Paris to attend two-day summit on new global financial pact

ISLAMABAD: The government has set up a new body to frame economic policies that “ensure policy predictability, continuity and effective implementation to revive the economy”, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Wednesday as he stressed the need for “creative ideas” to solve economic problems.

The new forum, the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), will serve as a top decision-making body to push through fundamental reforms in the economy’s structure, the premier tweeted.

It would focus on “leveraging key sectors such as IT, agriculture, energy, minerals and mining, and defence production”, he said.

Later in the day, PM Shehbaz arrived in Paris to attend an international conference for a new global financial pact.

A key goal of the SIFC, he said, was to attract investment from friendly countries. “The immediate task is to increase FDI (foreign direct investment) to $5 billion,” he said.

His statement came a day after central bank data showed that the FDI in July-May dropped 21 per cent over the past year to $1.32bn.

The prime minister said the need for a representative forum like the SIFC had long been felt because of the scale of economic challenges caused by internal and external factors.

“The textbook approach to deal with a unique set of problems is not workable anymore,” he said. “Hence all the more reason to leverage collective wisdom to kick-start the economy to make it self-reliant, export-driven, and robust, capable of withstanding external shocks and upheavals.”

He added: “Creative ideas offer the solution to our economic problems.”

PM arrives in Paris

Later on Wednesday, Prime Minister Sharif arrived in Paris at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron to attend the Summit for a New Global Financing Pact on June 22 and 23.

Mr Sharif was received by Pakistan’s ambassador in France and diplomatic officials, besides senior French government authorities.

Federal ministers Sherry Rehman, Sardar Ayaz Sadiq and Marriyum Aurangzeb, and premier’s special assistant Tariq Fatemi are part of the delegation.

The summit’s objective is to set the foundations for a new global financing architecture beyond the Bretton Woods system to simultaneously address climate change, biodiversity and development challenges and help all countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The prime minister will attend the two-day event along with heads of state and delegates from over 50 countries. He will also join the world leaders at a dinner reception hosted by the French president for the participating dignitaries. He will also hold bilateral meetings with different heads of state.

“During my visit to France, I will present Pakistan’s position on the need for restructuring of international financial institutions to fight the contemporary challenges facing humanity,” Mr Sharif tweeted on Wednesday.

“As a leading stakeholder in G-77 plus China grouping and also as a country adversely hit by climate change threat, Pakistan is better positioned for this role,” he said.

The reform of international financial architecture, he said, had long been a key demand relentlessly made at different forums by public policy scholars, policy practitioners and world leaders, especially from the Global South. He said the grave nature of challenges, such as climate change, natural disasters, environment, rising levels of debt and energy transitions, had rung alarm bells.

Learning Conference

Separately, in Islamabad, the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training opened the two-day Pakistan Learning Conference 2023 on Wednesday.

PM Shehbaz said he was looking forward to the conference’s recommendations for “building a resilient and happy future for our children”. However, he said he couldn’t attend the event “due to my commitment to represent Pakistan at a global financial moot in Paris”.

Published in Dawn, June 22nd, 2023

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