Info minister hails ‘message of unity’ as KP CM Gandapur attends SIFC meet

Published May 25, 2024
A combination photo of Information Minister Attaullah Tarar and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur speaking to the media in Islamabad on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV
A combination photo of Information Minister Attaullah Tarar and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur speaking to the media in Islamabad on Saturday. — DawnNewsTV

Information Minister Attaullah Tarar on Saturday said that a “message of unity” was sent as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur attended an overall “productive” meeting of the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC).

On Thursday, the PTI had lashed out at the government for allegedly excluding CM Gandapur from the invitation for today’s SIFC meeting.

The government formed the SIFC in June 2023 to bring together provincial and federal government representatives, as well as military officials, in a decision-making forum. Its goals include seeking solutions for economic revival and increasing FDI inflows.

Moreover, the council is managed by an apex committee comprising the prime minister, chief of army staff, chief ministers and other high-ranking government officials.

Addressing the media after today’s SIFC meeting in Islamabad, which was attended by CM Gandapur as well, the information minister said: “I want to say that all four chief ministers expressed complete trust regarding the SIFC, assured complete cooperation and also iterated the belief that the SIFC is a serious and effective forum and a lifeline to stabilise the economy, to develop the economy and to solve the country’s issues.”

He reiterated that CM Gandapur on behalf of his province also “fully assured that they will cooperate”.

Tarar said he was seated CM Gandapur in the meeting and had “small talks in a very cordial environment and good mood in which he talked about his province, we had many discussions on the province’s issues and we had some talks on a lighter note as well which I think is positive since we are political people and talks should always remain ongoing in politics”.

“He accepted that ‘we have our issues, there are constraints as well and oftentimes we have to talk because of them but we are not out of the SIFC. We express trust in the SIFC and accept it’.

“He talked about [the issues of] his province, definitely did and indeed he should as well. Along with that, he accepted the importance of the SIFC. I think today’s meeting was held in a very cordial atmosphere with great positivity and the frank discussion that was held about the economy, increasing investment, public-private partnerships … I think the good thing is that a message of unity was sent after today’s SIFC meeting that the Centre and the provinces are on one page.”

Tarar said the meeting’s participants agreed that investment, whether in the Centre or the provinces, would be promoted.

“I thank all chief ministers that they not only participated but gave very valuable input. This forum will move forward because of their input and coordination.”

Tarar said the meeting also discussed the United Arab Emirates’ recent pledge of $10 billion worth of investment in Pakistan’s economy, adding that the prime minister announced the formation of six specific regional desks in the SIFC to cater to investment from China, the United States, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the European Union.

He said the chief ministers supported the move.

“I think this was a very historic meeting whose dividends you will see in the coming days.”

Tarar said economic indicators were improving and amounts were being set aside by foreign countries for investment in Pakistan.

“Today was a very positive meeting. I congratulate all provincial governments for it. It was decided that there will be more frequent meetings of the executive committee in which many suggestions will be discussed which will then be brought to the apex [committee] and many decisions will be made in the executive committee.”

KP CM acknowledges ‘very good meeting’

Meanwhile, CM Gandapur too acknowledged that “it was a very good meeting”, saying that he had previously iterated the provincial government’s pleasure at KP’s resources being used for the country.

He said the resources of the province should continue to benefit both its residents and the larger country.

However, he added that the KP government would “never compromise” on its share of resources, adding that the issue was raised in the SIFC meeting and “the commitment has been given that the province’s resources, rights and share of the people will be protected and we too assured that our resources had always benefited the people and will continue to do so.”

Gandapur said the federal government was deliberating some additional taxes in KP and the former tribal areas but he had informed the SIFC members that such a step was not possible due to the already present financial circumstances of the province’s people and thus that such measures were not incorporated in the budget.

“They agreed with me and told me they would not include them,” he said, adding that the federal government said that it would hold further rounds of discussions with all stakeholders before levying the additional taxes.

He also downplayed the matter of his alleged exclusion from the invites for today’s SIFC meeting, saying that he had already given his clear message.

“Then they called us and want us to be a part of it so we are present and will do our work.”

Questioned about any meeting with Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Asim Munir and talks about the PTI, CM Gandapur said he met the army chief two times.

“When I am already getting the opportunity to talk to him then I don’t think I need to talk at a place where the opportunity is not there, the atmosphere is not right and other people are present,” he said.

PM commends SIFCs role in national prosperity, urges further collective efforts

Earlier, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said the SIFC was playing a critical role in the country’s progress and prosperity and thanked the provincial governments for expressing their confidence in the platform.

Addressing the SIFC meeting, the prime minister said that all members should work tirelessly to build a Pakistan as perceived by the founding fathers.

The prime minister urged the provincial governments to further support the SIFC and move ahead in unison “like a family to compensate for the losses of the past” and overcome issues of poverty and hunger.

He said that the federal government did not get enough resources for initiating development projects after the distribution of resources among the provinces, therefore under such conditions, all governments should move together with unity.

Updating the members of SIFC about his recent visit to the UAE, he said the Emirati leadership had announced a $10bn investment in Pakistan and expressed their complete confidence in the SIFC.

“The leadership of brotherly countries and others as well are aware of the functioning of SIFC,” he observed.

“When SIFC was formed through legal procedures, certain concerns were expressed by a quarter but with the passage of time, its significance, efficiency and achievements had shut all kinds of criticism and everybody now fully supported its initiatives,” PM Shehbaz added.

The premier stressed that the SIFC members should resolve to achieve their targets and work tirelessly to “transform Pakistan into something upon which Pakistanis can feel pride”.

The prime minister also underlined the need of capacity building and enhancing professionalism of experts in different fields.

He said that he had already instructed the ministries clearly to hire consultants and experts and would soon seek their feedback.

The prime minister said that the digitisation process of the Federal Bureau of Revenue had already commenced.

He urged all stakeholders to redouble their efforts and promote the local talent and industry, adding that 60 per cent of the population comprised the youth, who should be trained in information technology while natural resources worth “billions of rupees” lying untapped be fully utilised.

The prime minister also credited SIFC for paving the way for the Reko Diq project in Balochistan.

The SIFC’s apex committee meeting reviewed the progress on ongoing economic collaboration with friendly countries and appreciated the recent upsurge in trade and investment-related engagements under government-to-government and business-to-business frameworks.

The 10th meeting of the apex committee also saw directions given for an efficient follow-up mechanism to transform these commitments into tangible projects and economic dividends at a fast pace.

The meeting was convened to review various initiatives and projects under its ambit.

The meeting was attended by COAS Munir, members of the federal cabinet, chief ministers and high-level government officials.

The prime minister appreciated the role of the SIFC and affiliated stakeholders in steering the investment and privatisation drive in a “befitting manner”.

He also gave directions to fast-track various initiatives through a whole-of-the-government approach and to play a constructive role towards the economic stability of the country.

The army chief reassured the military’s firm resolve to support the government’s initiatives for the economic prosperity of the country and the socio-economic well-being of its people.

During the meeting, the ministries gave comprehensive progress on various projects and policy initiatives being steered through the platform and offered plans for the accomplishment of set milestones in the future.

The committee exhibited “profound satisfaction” with the overall progress achieved so far and appreciated the role of federal ministries, provincial governments and associated departments in realising the envisioned dividends.

The committee appreciated the facilitation provided from the platform for improving the macro-economic conditions of the country.

It also reviewed the progress on the privatisation of state-owned-enterprises and expressed satisfaction with the ongoing process. It urged the timely accomplishment of various privatisation milestones in collaboration with relevant stakeholders.

The committee reiterated the commitment to improve the investment ecosystem and gave directions to make it more investment-friendly through sustainable policy initiatives.

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